2016 Best Physics Doctoral Dissertation and Teacher of the Year prizes awarded

Awards for best doctoral dissertations were granted in recognition of research. Also a Teacher of the Year prize was awarded for the second time.

Kévin Franke, Jonne Koski and Fabian Schulz were awarded for the Best Physics Doctoral Dissertation in 2016 from the Department of Applied Physics in a ceremony held on 15 December 2015 at Aalto’s Otaniemi campus. Each awardee was invited to give a short presentation on their thesis topics. Also, the Teacher of the Year prize was awarded to Senior Lecturer Dr Jani Sainio. Dr Sainio works with the Surface Science group. 


Jani Sainio was awarded as Teacher of the Year for Physics, 2016.

The annual awards for doctoral dissertations are granted in recognition of outstanding excellence in doctoral research. The dissertations were selected by a nominated professor, this year by Professor Jaakko Timonen. The annual prize awarded for the acknowledgement of esteemed teaching in physics was newly established in 2015 by the Department of Applied Physics. The awardee for 2016 was selected by a committee consisting of professor, lecturer and student representatives. Each of the prizes amount to €3,000.


Kévin Franke received one of three awards for Best Physics Doctoral Dissertation 2016

In Franke's thesis "Domain wall coupling in ferromagnetic/ferroelectric heterostructures: Scaling behaviour and electric field driven motion", he studied new hybrid material systems that could scale down the size and energy consumption of devices. For his studies, Franke nanofabricated multilayered heterostructures of ferromagnetic and ferroelectric compounds and succeeded in demonstrating controlled and reversible magnetic domain wall motion induced by an electric field.  These results can find practical applications in e.g. new type of memory devices or sensors.

Franke's thesis was supervised by Professor Sebastiaan van Dijken at the NanoSpin group in the department.


2016 Best Physics Doctoral Dissertation awardee, Jonne Koski

In Dr Koski's work, "Heat transport, fluctuations, and Maxwell's demon in electronic nanocircuits", he studied experimentally stochastic thermodynamics and the concept of Maxwell's demon, by measuring heat transport and electron tunneling in electronic nanocircuits at low temperatures. The results give new insight into the nature of heat, entropy and information in small systems, thus touching a fundamental problem in thermodynamics. At the same time, Koski's results have great potential for relevant technological applications in the future.

Koski's thesis was supervised by Academy Professor Jukka Pekola at the PICO group, which is part of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices.


Fabian Schulz also received the 2016 Best Physics Doctoral Dissertation award

In his dissertation "Ultra-thin insulating layers of hexagonal boron nitride for high-resolution scanning tunneling spectroscopy”, Dr Schulz studied how to improve the capabilities of a method called scanning tunnelling spectroscopy (STS) by decoupling the nano-object under study from the supporting substrate. His experiments on metal containing organic molecules could not be explained within the conventional single-particle picture of tunneling spectroscopy. In his thesis Schulz outlined a novel interpretation which takes into account how electrons interact with each other. It provides a more general description of this type of measurements and should also apply to other experiments in this field.   

Schulz's thesis was supervised by Professor Peter Liljeroth at the Atomic Scale Physics group, which is part of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices.

For more information:

Department of Applied Physics:

Centre of Excellence in Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices, LTQ:

To learn more about the research groups described here:

Surface Science:

Nanomagnetism and Spintronics (NanoSpin):


Atomic Scale Physics (ATM):

Read also:

Väisälä Award to Professor Peter Liljeroth.



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