Professor Wickramasinghe Honored In 2006 “Scientific American 50”

Scientific American’s prestigious annual list recognizes science and technology contributions from many fields

H. Kumar Wickramasinghe, the Henry Samueli endowed chair and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has recently been recognized by Scientific American magazine as part of their 2006 Scientific American 50 – the magazine’s prestigious annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology from the past year.


Selected by the magazine’s board of editors with the help of distinguished outside advisors, the Scientific American 50 spotlights a “Research Leader of the Year,” a “Business Leader of the Year,” and a “Policy Leader of the Year.” The list also recognizes research, business and policy leaders who have played a critical role driving key science and technology trends over the last year in fields including robotics, genetics, Alzheimer’s research, nanotechnology and more.

Wickramasinghe was recognized in the business category for his contributions in rapidly sorting DNA fragments. Prior to joining UC Irvine, Wickramasinghe, who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, managed nanoscience and technology research at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.

Holding 70 patents, some of his most significant inventions and contributions to the nano field include the development of the vibrating mode atomic force microscope (AFM), the magnetic force microscope, the electrostatic force microscope, the Kelvin probe force microscope, the scanning thermal microscope, and the apertureless near-field optical microscope. Most of these scanning probe microscopes are standard instruments used today for nano-scale characterization.

Wickramasinghe’s AFM jet device for rapid molecule sorting and delivery was also recently named one of the 25 most innovative products of 2006 in the inaugural “MICRO/NANO 25” competition held by the editors of R&D magazine and the MICRO/NANO Newsletter.

The Scientific American 50 will appear in the magazine’s December issue, and the complete list can also be found at

Past Scientific American 50 lists have spotlighted visionaries from an array of fields, including prior honorees such as Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (sharing SA 50 2005 Business Leader of the Year), noted stem cell researcher Douglas A. Melton, professor of the national sciences at Harvard (2004 Policy Leader of the Year), and the Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, professor of molecular neurobiology and biophysics of Rockefeller University (2003 Research Leader of the Year).

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