Leo Kouwenhoven in US National Academy of Sciences


by: webredactie TU Delft

Leo Kouwenhoven, professor of nanophysics at TU Delft, has been elected a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the United States. Members are elected to this prestigious scientific organisation in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in science.

Stem-cell biologist and president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Hans Clevers, was also elected as a foreign member. In total, the National Academy of Sciences elected 84 new American members and 21 foreign members from fifteen different countries. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a non-profit organisation of distinguished scholars. It advises the American government on science, technology and health. The Academy also publishes among other things the scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). 

Ten Dutch members

Kouwenhoven is the first TU Delft professor to be elected to the American society. Currently there are a total of ten Dutch members, including the astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck, biochemist and cancer researcher Piet Borst and the physicists Martinus Veltman and Gerard ’t Hooft. New members of the National Academy of Sciences are elected through nomination and an extensive and careful selection procedure. There are more than 2000 American and almost 450 foreign members. Members are elected for life.

Quantum computer

Together with his research group, Leo Kouwenhoven is working on the development of the quantum computer. He received international recognition with the discovery of the mysterious Majorana fermion, which his group published in Science in 2013.

This Majorana fermion, the existence of which had already been predicted in the 1930s, forms one of the potential building blocks of the quantum computer, an extremely powerful computer that makes use of the unique qualities of quantum particles.  

Kouwenhoven is also director of research of the QuTech Institute, in which scientists and the Dutch high-tech industry collaborate on the development of this computer.