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Pines wins 2008 Russell Varian Prize

Alex Pines
Alex Pines

July 31, 2008

Alex Pines, the Glenn T. Seaborg Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and a senior scientist in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Materials Sciences Division, has been awarded the 2008 Russell Varian Prize.

The Russell Varian Prize was first awarded in 2002 and honors the cofounder of Varian Associates, who pioneered commercial NMR spectrometers. Sponsored by Varian Inc., the prize was awarded at the EUROMAR conference held July 6 — 11 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The prize is awarded for a single innovative contribution — a paper, patent, lecture, or piece of hardware — that has proven of "high and broad impact on state-of-the-art NMR technology." Major leaders in the field who have received the award include Erwin Hahn of UC Berkeley and John Waugh, Pines's former professor at MIT.

In 1971 Alexander Pines, then a graduate student at MIT, came up with a scheme for performing high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) on solids. Until that time, conventional NMR dealt mostly with liquids, because spin-polarized nuclei, upon which NMR depends, diffuse in liquid and certain interactions that interfere with the high resolution of spectral lines are averaged out. In solids, nuclei don't diffuse, and the lines of the NMR spectrum are broadened.

In 1972 Pines, with fellow graduate student Michael Gibby and their professor, John Waugh, published a note in the Journal of Chemical Physics promising "a method of high-resolution NMR of dilute spins in solids, "which has come to be known as cross-polarization. This brief note, and a longer article in the same journal the following year explaining the technique in detail, were to prove founding documents for the field of solid-state NMR, which expanded rapidly after their publication.

More Information

Pines Dept of Chemistry faculty web page
Pines Research Group

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