IEEE, the top professional society in electrical engineering, awarded its Pioneer Award in Nanotechnology to Stephen Chou, Princeton University’s Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering.

Chou has made wide ranging contributions to the field of nanotechnology, which is the study, manipulation and use of structures that are billionths of a meter (nanometers) in size. Such ultra-small devices are critical components of advanced computer chips, digital memory, electronic display screens, optical devices, energy harvesting, solid-state lighting, environmental monitoring, medical diagnosis and therapeutic technology and many high-performance materials.

The IEEE cited Chou “for seminal inventions, developments, and academic-industrial-impacts of new nanopatterning methods, especially nanoimprint; and paradigm-shifting electronic, optical, magnetic, biological nanodevices.”

One of Chou’s seminal contributions was his invention in 1995 of “nanoimprint lithography,” a method for inexpensively mass producing nanometer-scale structures. Nanoimprint has become a fundamental technology now used in screens for cell phones, biotechnology and academic and industrial research. Chou’s other inventions include a new type of magnetic data storage, bit-patterned media that increases the storage density by orders of magnitude; new biological and medical assays with sensitivity one million times higher than standard tests; and new types of solar cells, LEDs, and transistors.

Chou has received numerous previous honors for his work, including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 and to the National Academy of Inventors in 2013.