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2023 David Tabor Medal and Prize

Professor Lev Kantorovich for new theories of molecular diffusion and kinetics of two-dimensional assembly of molecules on surfaces, and origins of atomistic resolution in atomic force microscopy imaging, energy dissipation and molecular manipulation.

Lev Kantorovich award winner

Professor Lev Kantorovich has made profound and lasting contributions to surface physics. He developed detailed first-principles models of surface structure and kinetic models of growth of two-dimensional (2D) assemblies on surfaces and theories explaining high resolution, energy dissipation and molecular manipulation in force microscopy.

In particular, he pioneered the application of advanced density functional theory calculations to predicting the structure and spectroscopic properties of pristine and defective surfaces. As one of the most influential applications, these calculations resolved the longstanding controversy of reconstructions of Si(001) and InSb(001) surfaces, and provided the first examples of accurate predictions of the contribution of dispersion interaction to adsorption of molecules on surfaces. His calculations provided the detailed understanding of the mechanisms of metastable impact electron spectroscopy and its applications to understanding the nucleation of metal clusters on oxide surfaces.

As a major further development of these theories, they included detailed predictions of kinetics governing the growth of 2D assemblies on surfaces revealing the existence of multiple H-bonding assemblies and demonstrating how studying the growth kinetics is pivotal for explaining observed structures. Kantorovich developed the theory of disordered cytosine molecular networks. He initiated detailed kinetic studies of the first stages of epitaxial graphene formation, covalent assembly of porphyrin molecules on copper, and of gold atoms templating melamine hexagonal assemblies. His kinetic theory was pivotal in explaining transformation between molecular assemblies on calcite surfaces, in close collaboration with world-leading experimental groups. His work on graphene hybridisation by photocycloaddition provides a solid base for engineering graphene-based devices.

Equally important are his outstanding contributions to our understanding of the interactions underpinning the high resolution in non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging, the energy dissipation signal, and molecular manipulation. He was the first to recognise the importance of image interactions in AFM and in Kelvin force microscopy imaging of surfaces and has paved the way to their implementation in existing models. He was instrumental in developing the first virtual AFM software, now ubiquitous in the AFM community, and proved in particular that the energy dissipation observed in AFM operation is a real effect. His stochastic theory of noncontact-AFM dissipation based on adhesion hysteresis at non-zero temperatures is widely accepted. His theories of the mechanisms of molecular manipulation with scanning tunnelling microscopy tips, particularly those of a fullerene molecule covalently bound to a silicon surface, and mechanisms of charging of oxygen atoms and molecules on an insulating surface based on electronic tunnelling, set standards for interpretation of manipulation experiments.