CSIRO scientist the first female to win nanoscience prize

By Natalie Kyriacou 18 May 2015
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An Australian nanoscientist has become the first female in the world, and only person in the Southern Hemisphere, to win the Nobel Prize of the nanoscience world: the Feynman Prize

AMANDA BARNARD, A COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICIST at the CSIRO, has been awarded the prestigious Feynman Prize in nanotechnology theory for her pioneering work on diamond nanoparticles.

The prize, bestowed by the California-based Foresight Institute is among the top awards in science, and recognises excellence and significant achievement in molecular nanotechnology theory. Named after the scientist Richard Feynman, who’s credited with founding the branch of nanoscience, the prize has, up until now, only been awarded to males since its inception in 1993.

Advancing the science of carbon nanostructures

According to Paul Melnyk, President of the Foresight Institute, Amanda has spearheaded understanding of the structure and stability of carbon nanostructures.

“Although she has made numerous important contributions to the modelling of graphene, nanotubes, and diamond nanowires, it is her work on diamond nanoparticles that has had the greatest impact in the area of molecular nanotechnology,” he says.

Using entirely theoretical and computational methods to understand the structure of diamond nanoparticles, Amanda discovered the unique electrostatic properties of the nanoparticles, which arrange themselves spontaneously into highly valuable structures.

Her work is a huge breakthrough for the healthcare industry, advancing the knowledge of how the structural diversity of nanomaterials impact performance in everyday applications.

Amanda’s award-winning discovery has not only underpinned the development of a potentially lifesaving chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients that targets brain tumours, but has also highlighted the significant contribution of women in science.

Her past achievements include a Eureka Prize, the Frederick White Prize, the Malcolm McIntosh Prime Minister’s Prize for Physical Science and the JG Russell award.