WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A year ago, Chris Greene came to Purdue to help start the atomic physics department. In that time he has won a distinguished international award.
"I love the physics," Greene said. "I love my job. I don't need prizes to keep going. The fact is getting a prize is a boost in the arm. It's nice to have your peers recognize what you're doing."
In November Green will go to Hamburg, Germany to receive the 2013 Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics.
The prize is for Greene's theory about an unusual binding mechanism that can occur between two atoms making them giant compared to normal molecules.
"The molecules we predicted would be 1,000 to 10,000 times larger, still with only two atoms, so they're way far apart," Greene said. "They are bound by a very, very tiny, new type of chemical bonding mechanism."
Greene published his theory in 2000. In 2009 his theory was proven to be true.
He said it has been a long time coming since starting his theory out of pure curiosity in the 1980s.
"We saw some very funny wiggling force fields between the atoms that really surprised us," Greene said. "Even in the late 80s, I and my student were trying to figure out if this could actually be observable."
Now that we known they are observable, Greene said the molecules give scientists new options.
"One of the interesting things about it is these are much more controllable by tiny, tiny electric fields," Greene said. "So with a tiny battery you can steer these molecules around."
The Hamburg Prize comes with $53,444 and a research and teaching visit to the University of Hamburg.
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