Prize-winning scientist presents physics lecture

In a rare opportunity for the Physics Department, students will hear an award-winning scientist present his latest scientific research, the analysis of electrical impedance, said Pritish Mukherjee, chair of the department.

Ivar Giaever, 1973 Nobel Physics Prize Winner for his work on tunneling in solids and superconductors, will deliver a speech today at 4 at the Physics Colloquium in the USF Physics Auditorium.

While Giaever shares his prize with two other individuals – Leo Esaki of IBM and professor David Josebhson — his work in superconductors was unique to the project. When up for the prize, Giaever explained how electrons could move through thin solids that create superconductors.

In an effort to explain Giaever’s discovery, Mukherjee describes it in simple terms.

“Assume that a tennis ball is thrown against a wall. There is a very great chance that the ball will bounce off and not penetrate the wall,” he said.

Giaever discovered, however, how electrons, represented by the tennis ball, could permeate a thin surface to create superconductors. That is called tunneling, Mukherjee added.

After receiving the award in 1973, Giaever focused his research on biophysics, Mukherjee said.

Today’s lecture consist of Giaever’s research called “Electrical impedance Analysis of Mammalian Cells Cultured on Porous Electrodes,” which focuses on biophysics. In addition to Giaever’s research, Mukherjee commented on his expertise as a physicist and corporate executive officer.

“Giaever is a good reference for (physics) information”, Mukherjee said. “Not only is Giaever a professor of physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., but he is also the president of Applied Bio Physics Inc.”

The focus of Giaever’s colloquium at USF is the study of animal cells grown in a tissue culture on small, gold electrodes. Specifically, Giaever will be discussing the study of the behavior of these cells, for example how they move and spread.