Penn Physicists Charles Kane and Eugene Mele Win Benjamin Franklin Medal

Two University of Pennsylvania physicists have been selected as 2015 recipients of the Benjamin Franklin Medal, one of the world's oldest science and technology awards. The laureates will be honored April 23 at an award ceremony at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Charles Kane, the Class of 1965 Endowed Term Chair Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences' Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Eugene Mele, also a professor in that department, are among 8 scientists recognized with Benjamin Franklin Medals this year for their achievements in chemistry, civil engineering, computers and cognitive science, earth sciences, electrical engineering, life sciences and physics.

“Recognizing global breakthroughs in science and technology and outstanding business leadership is instrumental in inspiring the next generation of great scientists and engineers,” said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. “These are some of the greatest minds and most influential pioneers of our time who come to Philadelphia to receive this honor and inspire us all. They are the Franklins of today, and through their remarkable contributions there is no question that they will inspire the Franklins of tomorrow.”

The 2015 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics goes to Kane and Mele for their work that introduced a new class of materials known as topological insulators. These materials are electrical insulators on the interior but conduct electricity on their surface; their special properties could be useful for applications ranging from low power electronics to creating a topological quantum computer.

Founded in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute is one of America's oldest and premier centers of science education and development. The Franklin Institute Awards have recognized preeminent accomplishment in science and technology on an international level since the Institute was founded in 1824.

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