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Olli V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize 2020

The Olli V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize is awarded every four years to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to advances in low temperature physics and related fields. This year the prize is awarded to Professor J.C. Séamus Davis for his pioneering research into visualizing electronic quantum matter at the atomic scale.  

This summer the Bluefors Marketing Team spoke to Anssi Salmela, Head of Processes and Technical Operations at Bluefors, and member of the 2020 Olli V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize committee about the Lounasmaa Memorial Prize, its connection to Bluefors and the Low Temperature Laboratory at Aalto University. Anssi also shares his thoughts about Professor Davis research, its impact on the academic research and Bluefors progress. 

As Bluefors Head of Processes and Technical Operations, Anssi works on the communications with customers, mostly on technical questions. Anssi also contributes to the development of processes and company structure. He points out that Bluefors is not just ‘a bunch of physicists building tools anymore’, today Bluefors has professionals from many fields making sure all goes well. Also, the insight from physicists is essential to maintain the connection to Bluefors origins while scaling. These origins have their background in the Low Temperature Laboratory at Aalto University that was founded by Olli V. Lounasmaa in 1965. The laboratory is also part of the national OtaNano research infrastructure (OtaNano-LTL) and the European Microkelvin Platform where Bluefors participates as well. 

Olli V. Lounasmaa (Aalto University)

Before Bluefors was founded in 2008, Rob Blaauwgeers and Pieter Vorselman were working on development projects for the laboratory prior to starting the company (read the full story on the company history here). ‘The first Bluefors system can be considered as inventive extension of these projects. At this start, the laboratory was also vital as one of the first major customers and references. Throughout the company history, and hopefully for times to come’, Anssi expresses that ‘graduates from the lab have been a great source of world class experts in cryogenics’ to keep up Bluefors’ progress.  

Bluefors’ progress and resources are based on research and development and therefore it was interesting to find out how the research by the prize awardee Professor Davis may have an impact on academic research and what it has in common with Bluefors? Anssi explains that ‘Professor Davis’ impact on academic research is broad, but the merit that was emphasized by the selection panel was his pioneering research into visualizing electronic quantum matter at the atomic scale. The impact of his early progress did change both, the understanding of physics, and the ways experiments in the field are currently conducted. Bluefors shares the basic values of science. ‘We strive for progress, new knowledge and better tools to achieve this all.’ 

Professor J.C. Séamus Davis (Aalto University)

In the latest press release from Aalto University about the announcement of the prize,  Professor Davis states that ‘When you build your own tools, you’re more likely to find something interesting’. At Bluefors, we can relate to this statement since we build tools for scientists. Bluefors heritage comes from science and with strong emphasis on experimental physics, including designing and building of own setups. Anssi points out that Bluefors want to offer the best possible tools to the customers. ‘We want to take the (once so challenging) problem of reaching mK range temperature away and enable users focus on the other aspects of their experimental setup. Thus, we listen closely to the community and learn to continuously improve the tools we can offer.’ 

 The Olli V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize was awarded on September 4, 2020 during the virtual CMD2020GEFES, a large international conference covering all aspects of condensed matter physics. Watch Professor Davis plenary talk during CMD2020GEFFES from here.