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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Emilio Méndez Pérez and Pedro Miguel Echenique Landiríbar

Prince of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 1998

The experimental discovery of the so-called "Stark scales" and the first studies into the effect of "resonant tunnelling" are this award recipient´s main contributions.

Pedro Miguel Echenique Landiríbar

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Pedro Miguel Etxenike Landiribar (Isaba, Navarre, 1950 - ) is Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of the Basque Country. He completed his university studies at the Faculty of Physics that the University of Navarra had in San Sebastián/Donsostia (Guipuzkoa). After graduating in 1972, he carried out research for his doctorate at the prestigious University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD in 1976 with a thesis on the interaction of energetic particles with the surface of solids. In 1977, he earned another PhD from the University of Barcelona for his work on swift ion-induced excitation in condensed matter. In 1998, Cambridge University awarded him the higher doctorate of Doctor of Science (ScD).

After several postdoctoral stays in different international laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA), Bohr Institute (Denmark) and Lund University (Sweden), he returned to the Basque Country in 1980 after a period as a professor at the University of Barcelona. He held office between 1980 and 1983 as Regional Minister for Education in the Basque Government, and between 1983-1984 as Regional Minister for Education and Culture, in addition to acting as government spokesperson. During this time, he led the creation of a system of science and technology in the Basque Country and created a network of technology centres that have played a very important role in the technological development of the country in the last 15 years.

In 1984, Professor Etxenike resigned from the Basque Government to focus his activities once more on the field of science, spending two years as a visiting professor at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. He returned permanently to the Basque Country in 1986 where he became a Full Professor at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).

Etxenike’s research has focused on the explanation, using mathematical and computer methods, of the behaviour of the particles that make up solid bodies and their interaction with beams of external charged particles. His work has opened new lines of research and has stimulated innovative theoretical and experimental lines of work in very diverse fields of condensed matter physics such as the physical chemistry of the femtosecond, electron diffraction, electronic surface localization, reverse photo-emission, the tunnel microscope, the electron microscope, atomic collisions, the interaction of ions with plasma particles, ion implantation and surface excitations in superfluid helium. Another notable aspect of Professor Etxenike’s professional activities is his interest and ability in disseminating scientific and technological activities and making them more amenable to society at large. He has been very active in this field in recent years, giving numerous lectures in different university, cultural and business forums, at which he has always defended the cultural value of scientific activity.

A former Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, Etxenike is an honorary member of the American Physical Society and member of the Spain-USA Council and the Trilateral Commission, as well as advisor to Bull España and scientific advisor to the BBVA Foundation. He has received several scientific awards, noteworthy among which are the Munibe Science and Technology Prize, the Dupont Science Award, the Euskadi Research Prize and the Max Planck Research Award in Physics. In recent years, Professor Etxenike has received other distinctions of a general character such as the UPV/EHU Gold Medal and the Prince of Viana Prize for Culture, as well as being named “Favourite Son of the Town of Isaba” and “Universal Basque” in 1999.

He is Head of the Joint CSIC-UPV/EHU Centre for Materials Physics and is currently leading the Donostia International Physics Center Foundation project, with which he is contributing to a greater internationalization of scientific activity in the Basque Country in general, and in the area of the city of San Sebastián in particular. As he often casually comments, one of his greatest aspirations today is to make the city of Donostia known not only for its beauty, beaches, gastronomy and the quality of its people, but also as a modern city of science.

Emilio Méndez Pérez

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Emilio Méndez (Lérida, Spain, 1949) received his PhD in Physical Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Full professor of Condensed Matter Physics at the State University of New York and director of this university´s Interface Phenomena Institute, he is the author of six patents for microelectronic devices. Méndez, who has carried out important research at IBM´s Thomas J. Watson Institute, is a one-time collaborator of Leo Esaki, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics.

His research has focused on analysing the problems arising in the fabrication and characterisation of solid bodies used in high- technology processes. He has also studied the electronic and optoelectronic properties of semiconductor materials, and his findings on the effects of an electric field on the electronic properties of quantal wells and supernetworks, in addition to the experimental demonstration of the "Stark effect" on quantal wells, are particularly noteworthy.

Honorary Member of the American Physics Society, Emilio Méndez sits on the editorial board of Solid State Communications and Semiconductor Science and Technology magazines, and he has been the director of several NATO-sponsored courses on physics and semiconductor applications.

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