Walter Kohn, 1923-2016

ICTP honours memory of scientist and friend
Walter Kohn, 1923-2016

ICTP was saddened to hear of the passing of Chemistry Nobel Laureate Walter Kohn, a longtime friend of the Centre who died 19 April 2016 at his home in California.

Over the years, Kohn had visited ICTP numerous times, most recently in 2010 for the Centre’s “ICTP After 45: Science and Development for a Changing World” event. He had a long working relationship with ICTP’s Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics section, whose researchers regularly employ density functional theory to compute the electronic structure of matter—a concept developed by Kohn for which he shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

ICTP had recently established the Walter Kohn Prize to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of quantum-mechanical materials and molecular modeling. Nominations for the prize will be accepted until 31 May.

Kohn, who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923, became a naturalized 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 has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the electronic function of materials. Kohn was also founding director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics (now the Kavli Institute) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

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