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Cahn received the Kyoto Prize in 2011. Cahn received the Kyoto Prize in 2011.

Foundation for Innovation

John W. Cahn will discuss his innovative research in advanced technology at a March 21 Kyoto Prize Symposium lecture.
By Hallie Jacobs

Cell phones, satellites, computer chips — none of these innovations would have been possible without the contributions of materials scientist John Werner Cahn, Ph.D.

Cahn was recognized as the 2011 recipient of the Kyoto Prize in advanced technology — Japan’s highest private award for global achievement. He serves as emeritus senior fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Standards of Technology, and affiliate professor at the University of Washington.

Cahn’s theory of spinodal decomposition has provided the groundwork for numerous innovations, ranging from automobile interiors to modern communication devices.  His theory enables the production of new alloys with highly structured characteristics.  These engineered alloys improved the structures of glass, metals, polymers and semiconductors by making them stronger and more efficient.

Cahn will speak about his vital work during a free presentation at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, at SDSU’s Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.

About Cahn’s research

Before the 1950s, the production of efficient alloys seemed impossible.  For this to occur, molten components would need to flow against their natural concentration gradients, which defied the laws of thermodynamics known at the time.

Cahn and his research partner, the late John Hilliard, proved the impossible by developing a theory that enabled the necessary conditions to produce alloys and predict how they could form. 

Cahn’s research also paved the way for phase-field methodology, a novel mathematical approach for solving scientific riddles.

Register now

For more information and to register for the presentation, please visit the Kyoto Prize Website. Parking is free in Parking Structure 5.

This event is part of the Kyoto Prize Symposium, a series of lectures taking place throughout the San Diego region March 21 and 22. Sponsored by the Inamori Foundation, other San Diego universities, including the University of San Diego and the University of California San Diego, will present lectures from the basic sciences and arts and philosophy Kyoto Prize recipients.

For more information on the symposium, please visit the Kyoto Prize Website.

The Inamori Foundation

The non-profit Inamori Foundation was established in 1984 by Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera and KDDI Corporation.  The foundation created the Kyoto Prize in 1985, in line with Inamori’s belief that a human being has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth.

As of the 27th Kyoto Prize ceremony (Nov. 10, 2011), the prize has been awarded to 87 individuals and one foundation, collectively representing 15 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors.  The United States has produced the most recipients (35), followed by Japan (15), the United Kingdom (12) and France (8).