The Walter Kohn Prize

For outstanding contributions in the field of quantum-mechanical materials and molecular modeling

The Walter Kohn Prize for quantum-mechanical materials modeling, jointly instituted and co-funded by ICTP and the Quantum ESPRESSO Foundation is awarded biennially to a young scientist for outstanding contributions in the field of quantum-mechanical materials and molecular modeling, performed in a developing country or emerging economy, with emphasis on first-principles techniques.

The Prize is usually awarded to one person, but may be shared equally among recipients who have contributed to the same body of work.  

The Prize consists of:       

  • a cash award of €2000      
  • a citation     
  • an invitation to attend the award ceremony and deliver an award lecture at ICTP  
The prize is normally awarded biennially on the occasion of the Total Energy Conference.

ICTP and the Quantum Espresso Foundation decided that, considering the shorter and virtual character of the 2021Total Energy Conference, the prize was regrettably not awarded in 2021. ICTP and the QEF look forward to award the next Walter Kohn prize at the next Total Energy Conference in 2023. Nominations already submitted for 2021 will be automatically considered for 2023 together with any nomination that will be submitted on the occasion of the new call for nominations.

Eligible candidates should be under the age of 45 and must be working in countries that are NOT included in the list of “High-income economies” compiled by the World Bank (see

Nominations and self nominations, including a CV of the candidate, a list of the three best publications arising out of work performed in a developing country or emerging economy, and no less than two letters of support, should be sent to the Prize Committee at, before the stated deadline.

Walter Kohn, 1998 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923, and became a naturalised US citizen in 1957 after escaping Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and earning university degrees in Canada and the United States in the 1940s. Renowned for his work as a condensed matter theorist, Kohn made seminal contributions to our understanding of the electronic structure of materials. He played a leading role in the development of density functional theory, which has proved an invaluable concept for physicists, chemists and materials scientists. Kohn was also founding director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. Kohn passed away on 19 April 2016.