Professor David Solomon – Inventor of Plastic Bank Note Wins 2006 Victoria Prize
Media Release, Thursday 19 October 2006
Eminent scientist and inventor of the plastic bank note, Professor David Solomon, Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, has been awarded the prestigious 2006 Victoria Prize.
The Prize was presented to Professor Solomon by the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, The Hon Justice Marilyn Warren, at a function at Government House last night.
The University of Melbourne was also recognised for supporting Professor Solomon’s work, receiving the $100,000 Anne & Eric Smorgon Memorial Award from the Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation which complements the Victoria Prize.
The annual $50,000 Victoria Prize is awarded by the Victorian Government to a leading scientist or engineer whose discovery or innovation is advancing knowledge and has the clear potential to be commercialised.
In 1966 when Australia converted from imperial to decimal currency, and after a spate of forgeries, Professor Solomon was invited by the Reserve Bank to be a member of a scientific think tank to develop currency that could not be forged.
The issue of the 1988 Bicentennial $10 note was the culmination of 21 years of his research.
Professor Solomon’s contribution of the invention of the plastic banknote technology has seen Victoria become the world leader in security printing. The technology is now available in more than 20 countries worldwide.
“I am very proud to receive this award and to see how this technology has developed into a booming export industry in Australia,“ Professor Solomon said.
The application of polymer technology to other areas of science is being further investigated. Professor Solomon is currently leading a team to determine how polymers can reduce evaporation of water.
“If a layer of polymer can be placed over water it can stop crucial water being evaporated. It will be very rewarding to be able to use this technology in the area of water conservation,” he said.
Professor Solomon is also renowned for his pioneering work on polymer chemistry; he has invented the first process to give precise control over molecular structure by a commercially viable method. His patent was the top 10 most cited patent each year from 1999 to 2004 in chemistry.
Professor Solomon started his polymer research career in the paint industry at Dulux. He has set up led three major polymer research laboratories in Victoria; the Dulux Polymer Laboratories, the CSIRO Molecular Science Group and the Polymer Science Group at the University of Melbourne.
His work into the plastic bank note technology was carried out in Victoria at the CSIRO and in later years at the University of Melbourne, where he has spent the last 15 years.
Professor Solomon is one of an elite group of Australian scientists admitted to The Royal Society, London, whose 1300 members include Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
The plastic banknote work is currently a feature display at both The Royal Society London and in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne.
Victorian Fellowships of $18,000 each were also announced today by the Minister for Innovation John Brumby. Three of the six Victoria Fellowships announced were awarded to University of Melbourne academics
• Dr Bryan Fry, Australian Venom Research Unit, for finding medical cures from Australia’s snakes and poisonous creatures.
• Mohammad Tabbara, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, for using next generational technology to produce safer and cleaner cars.
• Hadi Lioe, Chemistry, for using mass spectrometry to help improve the detection of new diseases, biological warfare agents and toxic agents. Hadi Lioe is also the recipient of the 2006 AFAS FEAST-France Fellowship.
The Fellowships enable young researchers and innovators to travel overseas on a short-term study mission to pursue specialist training or to develop a commercial idea. Applications are open to any young researcher working in private enterprise or a research institution.
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