Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award

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Lise Meitner with students
Physicist Lise Meitner with students, 1959. Courtesy of Bryn Mawr College. Credit: Wikimedia commons.

The Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award is awarded by the Gothenburg Physics Centre to a scientist who has made a breakthrough discovery in physics.

About Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a researcher in Berlin from 1907 to 1938, when she was forced to flee to Sweden, where she came to work for 20 years. As a woman she was initially not allowed in the laboratories where men worked and later she had a hard time getting a regular academic position. With these qualifications, she was still one of the leading nuclear physicists in the world. After her escape to Sweden, she was the first to understand nuclear fission when she during a stay in Kungälv Christmas in 1938 , along with her nephew Otto Frisch, could explain the results that Otto Hahn, her colleague in Berlin, sent her.

Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award

The Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award is not only about awarding well merited physicists, but also to enrich the scientific environment in Gothenburg. People belonging to either of Gothenburg Physics Center's four departments can nominate for the award.

The award was established in 2006 by the Department of Physics at University of Gothenburg and holds the honor, a monetary prize of EUR 3000 and a piece of art. In conjunction with the award ceremony, that takes place in September every year, the laureate holds a lecture in memory of the nuclear physicist Lise Meitner.

Laureate of the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award 2023

Nicola Spaldin
Nicola Spaldin, laureate of 2023. Photo: ETH Zürich / Giulia Marthaler

The laureate of the 2023 Lise Meitner Award is Professor Nicola Spaldin, who is awarded for "Fundamental theoretical contributions and discoveries in the field of multiferroics".

Nicola Spaldin’s ground-breaking theoretical contributions to fundamental physical understanding and practical materials design, combined with her vision and scientific leadership, are responsible for establishing one of the most important classes of emerging materials today – multiferroics – and positioning them to enable technological transformation.

Multiferroics – materials that are simultaneously magnetic and ferroelectric – are poised to make major societal contributions through novel device paradigms, and at the same time provide a rich forum for basic scientific discoveries in fields as diverse as condensed matter and high-energy physics, nanoelectronics and astroparticle physics, all thanks to Spaldin’s pioneering developments.

Nicola Spaldin is a Professor of Materials Theory in the Department of Materials at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, Switzerland.

She studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, where she obtained a B.A. in Natural Sciences in 1991. She then moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her PhD in Chemistry in 1996. She next worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Physics Department at Yale University, before moving back to California, where she was Assistant Professor (1997–2002), Associate Professor (2002–2006) and then Full Professor (2006–2010) in University of California, Santa Barbara’s Materials Department. She moved to ETH Zürich in 2011.

Go to Youtube to learn more about Nicola Spaldin's research, listen to her lectures, and more: Nicola Spaldin - Youtube

Previous laureates

Ferenc Mezei and Anne L'Huillier
Laureates Ferenc Mezei and Anne L'Huillier in the Lise Meitner room at Chalmers, September 2022.

The following physicists have been awarded the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award: 

The prize was not awarded in 2022, due to the corona pandemic already delaying the awarding of the 2020 and 2021 prize.