ONR-funded researcher wins Canada's highest academic honor

May 07, 2000

An ONR-funded researcher at the University of Toronto is a recipient of the Killam Prize, Canada's most prestigious award for scientists. Paul Brumer, a professor of chemistry, will receive the $75,000 prize at an awards ceremony tomorrow (May 9) at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Brumer received the award for his major contributions to the field of theoretical chemical physics, an area that uses physics, mathematics and computer modeling to better investigate the nature of chemical processes.

According to a University of Toronto news release, Brumer and his colleague Moshe Shapiro opened up an entirely new branch of science -- and a minor scientific industry -- when they introduced what came to be known as "coherent control of molecular processes." Specifically, they showed how lasers can be used to encode quantum mechanical information into molecules so that they move toward a desired target.

Quantum interference effects cause the preferential formation of a particular reaction product over other allowed reaction products. Through such experimental handles as the frequencies and phases of the laser light, or the shape of the pulse, one can manipulate the degree of control, or which product is produced.

"Dr. Brumer and Dr. Shapiro's research provided the theoretical underpinning of methods now being experimentally realized," said ONR Program Manager Peter Reynolds, who has funded Brumer's work nearly from its inception. "ONR has funded this work because it is directed toward our long-range goal of being able to control chemical reactions, to find cheaper and easier routes to make tailor-made materials and chemicals, and to clean up chemical contaminants."

The Killam Prize is Canada's most distinguished annual award given in recognition of outstanding career achievements by Canadians in the natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. The $75,000 prize is financed through funds donated to the Canada Council for Arts by the late Dorothy Killam in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. This year, 182 winners were selected from nearly 3,000 applicants for awards totaling $6,345,000.

Dr. Brumer has received a host of other awards and honors throughout his career, including the Sloan Fellowship, the Noranda Award and the Palldium Medal. He is also a Fellow of the CIC and the American Physical Society, and was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1994. He joined the University of Toronto in 1975 after having received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard.

Office of Naval Research

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