Max von Laue Prize for Elena Bykova

Elena Bykova

Elena Bykova in front of the PETRA III experimental hall 'Max von Laue' at DESY (Photo: DESY, Marta Mayer)

DESY scientist Elena Bykova has been awarded the Max von Laue Prize 2018 by the German Crystallographic Society. The prize was presented on Monday, at the society’s annual conference in Essen. It recognises the outstanding achievements of the 29-year-old scientist in the field of ultra-high-pressure crystallography and the resulting unique scientific insights into novel high-pressure materials. This is the second year running that the Max von Laue Prize has gone to a scientist working at DESY. Last year, DESY’s Thomas White received the award for developing the software package CrystFEL, which made it possible to analyse the data from numerous trailblazing crystallographic experiments using X-ray lasers.

Bykova helped to establish high-pressure and high-temperature experiments on single crystals, so-called monocrystalline materials, which offer completely new insights into Nature: far from the narrow range of temperatures and pressures that we describe as being normal, they reveal more general properties of matter and chemical compounds. Thus for example, Bykova discovered nine new iron oxides with unusual crystal structures and unexpected compositions that can exist at high pressures and temperatures like those found deep within the Earth. Monocrystalline solids are made up of a uniform, entirely regular lattice of atoms.

Bykova received her PhD from the University of Bayreuth before joining DESY. “When Elena started in Bayreuth, it was not possible to experimentally determine crystal structures of monocrystalline solids at pressures much above 15 gigapascals and temperatures much above 700 degrees Celsius,” Bykova’s PhD supervisor Leonid Dubrovinsky points out, Academic Director with the Bavarian Geoscientific Institute of the University of Bayreuth. “Today, being able to study monocrystalline structures at pressures beyond 170 gigapascals and several thousand degrees Celsius allows us to investigate materials under extreme conditions. Elena made a vital contribution towards realising this long-standing dream of geoscientists, chemists, material scientists and physicists.”

The Max von Laue Prize explicitly recognises Bykova’s contribution to establishing new research methods, for instance at the Extreme Conditions Beamline (ECB) P02.2 at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III. “Elena Bykova has made outstanding achievements in the field of high-pressure and high-temperature crystallography! I congratulate her most warmly on this deserved prize,” said DESY’s research director for Photon Science, Edgar Weckert. “Numerous other research scientist are also benefiting from her work.”

The Max von Laue Prize has been awarded annually since 1996, and is conferred on promising young scientists for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of crystallography. It comes with 1500 euros in prize money.

(from DESY news)