2008 EMET Prize Laureate – Exact Sciences: Chemistry
Prof. Itamar Willner is awarded the EMET Prize for his pioneering research, promoting scientific disciplines in the fields of molecular and biomolecular electronics, as well as the development of nanobiotechnology. His studies bridge chemistry, biology and materials science, and they establish an interdisciplinary research field at the forefront of science.
Prof. Itamar Willner was born in Romania in 1947, and immigrated to Israel in 1950. He grewup in Ness-Ziona, and served as an officer in the IDF. He completed his studies in chemistry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1978. Following postdoctoral research training at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the Institute of Chemistry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1981, where he was appointed full professor in 1986. During the years 1997-2000 he acted as the Head of the Institute of Chemistry.
His research activities focus on the development of molecular and biomolecular electronic systems aiming to establish fundamental principles for the construction of optical and electronic sensors, the self-assembling of functional nanoscale structures, and the designing of materials and modified surfaces exhibiting unique optical, electronic and catalytic properties.
His scientific activities represent an interdisciplinary effort to bridge chemistry, biology and materials science, and his research pioneered the development of nanobiotechnology. His studies led to the development of sensors for clinical diagnostics and for the detection of explosives, to the construction of biofuel cells and to the design of solar energy conversion and fuel production systems.
His accomplishments were recognized with numerous awards and honors, among them the Israel Prize in Chemistry, the Rothschild Prize, the Kolthoff Prize, the Israel Chemical Society Award and the Max Planck Award for International Cooperation. He is a member of The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and of The European Academy of Sciences and Arts.