Prof. Alex Zunger

National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder (Colorado), USA


Alex Zunger received his Ph.D. from Tel-Aviv University (Israel), where he worked with Prof. Joshua Jortner and Benyamin Englman on quantum theory of molecular solids. He did  his postdoctoral research at the Physics Dept. of  Northwestern University with A.J. Freeman. Afterwards, he then received the IBM Fellowship, which he spent at the Physics Dept. of U.C. Berkeley with M.L. Cohen.  Alex Zunger established and headed NREL’s Solid State Theory group, a position he still holds today. He mentored 65 post-doctoral fellows at the Solid State Thoeor group. Concomitantly, Dr. Zunger became a Prof. of Physics (adjoint) at the Physics Dept. at Colorado University, Boulder where he stayed until 1986. In 1984 he was appointed as Principal Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and became an Institute Research Fellow in 1991. Dr. Zunger is the author 500 peer-reviewed journal articles, including over 120 publications in Physical Review Letters and Rapid Communications, and three citation classics. According to recent research done by the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), he is the 39th most cited physicist out of more than 500,000 physicists examined, based on publications in 1981-1997 in all branches of physics.


Alex Zunger

Prof. Alex Zunger

Photo: National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Prof. Zunger’s research field is Condensed Matter Theory of Real Materials. He developed the first-principles density functional pseudopotentials and co-developed the Momentum space total energy method. In 1981, he developed together with John Perdew the now most widely used exchange and correlation energy functional and the Self-Interaction Correction. In 1983, he developed a novel theoretical method for simultaneous relaxation of atomic positions and charge densities in self-consistent LDA calculations.  Recently, he developed methods for calculating the electronic properties of semiconductor quantum nanostructures.  The Bardeen Award was given to A. Zunger on his “seminal contributions to the theoretical understanding and prediction of “spontaneous ordering” in alloys whereas the Rahman award was given “for his pioneering work on the computational basis for first-principles electronic structure theory of solids.”  He is the winner of the DOE/MRI 1980 and 1990 Outstanding Achievement Award, and the 1997 DOE-BES award for Sustained Research in Solid State Physics.  He is a seven-time invited speaker to the annual “American Physical Society March Meeting” and is a seven-time-invited speaker of the “Materials Research Society.


The ceremony of the Gutenberg Lecture Award 2009 took place on November 12, 2009 at 5pm at Alte Mensa, Atrium Minimum, Johann-Joachim-Becher Weg 3-9, 55128 Mainz.



left to right: A. Zunger, C. Felser, U. Förstermann


Zunger 2

left to right: K. Kremer, C. Felser, A. Zunger, U. Förstermann, G. Bester

Photos: Lena Giovanazzi

Invitation and Program (PDF, 134KB)

Press release