NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science

NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science

About the NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science

Awarded for original scientific work of intrinsic scientific importance and with significant, beneficial applications in industry. The recipient is awarded a $25,000 prize. Established by the IBM Corporation in honor of Ralph E. Gomory.

Most Recent Recipient

Robert H. Dennard received the 2017 NAS Award for the Industrial Application of Science. Dennard’s contributions to microelectronics heavily influenced the world of modern computing. In 1966 he invented one-transistor Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), which replaced magnetic-core memory and became the RAM of virtually every computer and communication device used in industry today, ranging from transportation to telecommunications to medicine. Each basic DRAM cell uses a single transistor and a tiny capacitor to store a bit of data (stated as 0 or 1) in a large memory array within an integrated circuit chip, along with decoding circuits needed to write and read data to and from the chip. Dennard is the sole inventor of the fundamental DRAM patent, just one of his many patents.

Dennard made another fundamental contribution in 1972, working with his colleagues to develop scaling principles for miniaturization of MOS (Metal Oxide Semiconductor) transistor devices and integrated circuits (ICs). Applying these scaling principles led to the increased density, operating speed, and energy efficiency of devices and circuits. They also provided industry with accurate, long-term projections of what advances in technology would mean to semiconductors and other products. This scaling methodology led the way from the early 5-micron MOS IC layout dimensions to today’s nanometer-scale dimensions of memory chips, high-performance processor chips and other IC applications using modern CMOS (Complementary MOS) technology.

Dennard also was a conceptual leader in IBM's early development of word/bit line redundancy for DRAM yield improvement, which was used in the IBM 64 kilobit DRAM. Word/bit line redundancy now is a standard technique in the memory industry. Read more about Dennard's work»


Robert H. Dennard (2017, computer science)
For seminal contributions in the field of Microelectronics for the invention of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), and CMOS scaling.
Read more about Dennard's work»

James C. Liao (2014, bio-energy)
For developing the technologies that enable the production of higher alcohols as drop-in fuel from sugars, cellulose, waste protein, or carbon dioxide.

H. Boyd Woodruff (2011, agriculture)
For leading the development of multiple antibiotics, vitamin B12, and the avermectins, the latter revolutionizing parasite treatment in livestock and humans.

Robert T. Fraley (2008)
For developing technologies that enabled the production of the world's first transgenic crops.  These modified plants have increased productivity, reduced chemical use, and profoundly changed global agriculture.

Philip Needleman (2005)
For his groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the metabolism of arachidonic acid in physiology and pathophysiology, which generates prostacyclin and thromboxane.

J. Craig Venter (2002)
For his vision in using expressed sequence tags in genetic analyses, his unique contributions to the sequencing of microbial genomes, and his leadership in mobilizing new methods and resources for sequencing the human genome.

Ralph F. Hirschmann (1999)
For his ingenuity in creative chemical design and synthesis directed to the commercial production of numerous essential pharmaceuticals, such as anti-inflammatory steroids and anti-hypertensive compounds.

John H. Sinfelt (1996)
For his discovery of the principle of bimetallic cluster catalysis and the consequent development of the catalyst widely used in making lead-free gasoline.

Nick Holonyak (1993)
For his profound impact on industry and on the daily lives of the people around the world through his prolific inventions in the area of semiconductor materials and devices, including practical light-emitting diodes.

Carl Djerassi (1990)
While making pioneering contributions to steroid chemistry, he invented the first successful oral contraceptive, then led the team that brought it to market and won its public acceptance.


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