Ames Laboratory senior scientist Paul C. Canfield receives James C. McGroddy Prize


Credit: Ames Laboratory

Professor Paul C. Canfield, a senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory has been awarded the James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials by the American Physical Society (APS).

Canfield, who is also a Distinguished Professor and the Robert Allen Wright Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University, was selected for the prize "for development and use of solution growth of single crystalline intermetallic materials to design, discover, and elucidate new heavy fermion, superconducting, magnetic, and quasicrystalline states." Canfield will be awarded the prize, which consists of a certificate and honorarium, at the 2017 APS March meeting in New Orleans.

"Each year, the American Physical Society recognizes leading physicists through a variety of prizes and awards," said APS President Homer Neal. "We are proud to honor a spectrum of recipients, including outstanding early-career researchers, exceptional communicators and educators, and accomplished theorists and experimentalists working in every major field of physics."

The James C. McGroddy Prize is intended to stimulate the discovery of new classes of materials, the observation of novel phenomena in known materials that lead to both fundamentally new applications and scientific insights, and theoretical and experimental work that contributes significantly to the understanding of new materials phenomena.

Canfield's research interests include the design, discovery, growth and characterization of novel electronic and magnetic compounds – often in single crystal form – and the study of their electrical, magnetic and thermal properties. Over the past three decades, he has helped discover, understand, and optimize materials with ferromagnetic and superconducting states as well as more exotic system that have fragile magnetism that can be manipulated so as to shed light on basic questions addressing the very origins of magnetic behavior.

"This award is further confirmation of the outstanding scientific ability Paul brings to the study of new materials," said Ames Laboratory Director Adam Schwartz. "His leadership role in understanding and addressing scientific challenges in this area has resulted in great advances in the science of new materials. All of us at the Ames Laboratory congratulate Paul on receiving this important recognition."

Canfield has also received numerous awards and citations for his work. In 2015, he received a Humboldt Research Award. In 2014, he was named a Gordon and Betty Moore Materials Synthesis Investigator and was also placed on the Thomson Reuters' World's Most Influential Scientific Minds list. In 2011, Canfield received the Department of Energy Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.

The McGroddy Prize is not Canfield's first American Physical Society award. In 2014, the APS presented him with the David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics and in 2001, he was elected to be an APS Fellow.

In recognition of his research and teaching accomplishments, Canfield has received several awards from Iowa State University, including the ISU Early Excellence in Research award, Mid-career Achievement Award and Master Teacher Award.

"I am incredibly honored to receive this prize," Canfield said. "It allows me to join the ranks of researchers who have provided inspiration and influence to my career. In specific, Zachary Fisk (1990 McGroddy Prize), who introduced me to solution growth, and Joe Remeika (1984 McGroddy Prize) who, in turn, taught Zachary many of this technique's finer points."

Canfield went on to muse that, "It has really simply been a joy to develop, use and teach solution growth over the past decades. It is a powerful tool for the growth and discovery of new materials and, at the same time, wonderfully pleasing in its simplicity and elegance."

Canfield is an author of roughly 800 peer reviewed articles and has also written general science reviews of superconductivity in Physics Today, Physics World and Scientific American. He has written essays in Nature Physics, Nature Materials and the Journal of Applied Physics about the basic esthetics that drive the research physicist and has compared experimental, new materials research to activities as diverse as cooking, fishing or even jogging.

Over the past decade, Canfield has created and taught courses about the fundamentals of new materials discovery and characterization in a number of universities and summer schools. His hope is to inspire and educate as many researchers as possible to join the vital search for new materials that will alleviate humanity's growing energy and environmental needs.

Canfield received a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in physics from the University of California at Los Angeles. After postdoctoral work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he joined the Ames Laboratory in 1993 and the Iowa State University Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1994.


The James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials is named after James C. McGroddy, a former head of IBM's Research Division. The prize was established in 1997 and is endowed by IBM.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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