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Humboldt Foundation award winner coming to Kiel University

Professor Nian X. Sun from the Northeastern University in Boston won the Humboldt Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This includes a research stay at Kiel University with Professor Eckhard Quandt.  


Professor Nian X. Sun from the Northeastern University in Boston, a winner of the Humboldt Research Award granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is coming to Kiel in the summer of 2020. The scientist working at the interface of material science and electric engineering is internationally regarded as lead in the field of magnetoelectric materials, which can be used in applications such as innovative sensors. Sun was nominated for the award for his outstanding achievements in research and teaching. Award winners are invited to spend time cooperating on a research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. Sun will spend approximately one year researching new magneto electronic materials for magnetic field sensors and their application in the Collaborative Research Centre 1261 "Magnetoelectric Sensors: From Composite Materials to Biomagnetic Diagnostics" at Kiel University (CAU). With the Humboldt Research Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation recognises scientists who have had a significant impact on their own discipline. The prize is valued at €60,000.

Together with members of the CRC 1261, Sun wants to investigate the suitability of new magnetoelectric materials as alternatives for sensor production. Highly-sensitive magnetic field sensors, such as those researched in the CRC, could in future capture the magnetic signals of the human body, and thereby enable conclusions to be drawn regarding heart and brain activities. In comparison with established electrical measurement techniques such as the ECG (electrocardiogram), these magnetic measurements could be made without direct skin contact, and thus simplify medical diagnostics.

"We are delighted that we will soon welcome such an internationally renowned colleague as Nian Xiang Sun in Kiel. Since we pursue different approaches to highly sensitive magnetic field sensors, we complement each other perfectly, so that both sides will benefit enormously from the cooperation," said CRC spokesperson Professor Eckhard Quandt, who nominated Sun for the award. Last but not least, the award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation also highlights the cutting-edge nature of research into magnetic field sensors, added Quandt.

Sun has already been working closely with the interdisciplinary research network at the CAU for a number of years. Among other things, they have jointly issued numerous publications, and established a doctoral researcher exchange programme, through which early career researchers from Kiel and Boston make reciprocal visits to research in each other’s working groups. “I will be visiting Kiel University and other universities and research institutes in Germany starting summer 2020 for collaborative research. We will also have exchange students with Kiel University to further our existing collaborations”, award winner Sun is looking forward to the next year.  

More about KiNSIS

Details, which are only a millionth of a millimetre in size: this is what the priority research area "Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science – KiNSIS" at Kiel University has been working on. In the nano-cosmos, different laws prevail than in the macroscopic world - those of quantum physics. Through intensive, interdisciplinary cooperation between physics, chemistry, engineering and life sciences, the priority research area aims to understand the systems in this dimension and to implement the findings in an application-oriented manner. Molecular machines, innovative sensors, bionic materials, quantum computers, advanced therapies and much more could be the result. More information at

© Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University

Professor Nian X. Sun from the Northeastern University in Boston won the Humboldt Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Part of this is a research stay at Kiel University next year.

Nian Xiang Sun is a professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Northeastern University in Boston. He received his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University, and was subsequently a research scientist at IBM and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Sun researches integrated magnetic and so-called multiferroic materials for sensors, memory technologies and high-frequency, power and microwave electronics. He has written over 150 publications and holds more than 20 patents. Sun is an editor of the monthly scientific journal IEEE Transactions on Magnetics.