Prof. Keshav Dani wins Falling Walls Science Breakthrough in Physical Sciences

Experimental physicist recognized for his outstanding science: Imaging dark excitons

Prof. Keshav Dani in his lab

Congratulations to Dr. Keshav Dani, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Associate Professor, for being among the ten winners of this year’s Falling Walls Science Breakthrough in Physical Sciences. 
A Berlin-based nonprofit, the Falling Walls Foundation works to communicate outstanding science and research to society. Each year, the group publishes a global call seeking the latest breakthroughs and outstanding science projects that “foster collaborative solutions for the challenges of our time.” The group looks at nine categories, including Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering and Technology.  

Prof. Dani, who leads the OIST Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit, is recognized for his work “Imaging momentum forbidden dark excitons.” [Science 370, 1199 (2020), Science Advances 7, eabh0192 (2021), Nature 603, 247 (2022)]. These findings are listed by the Falling Walls Foundation as one of the top ten breakthroughs in Physical Sciences 2023.  

"It is humbling to be listed alongside the other winners, who I know to be incredible researchers doing truly cutting-edge science," says Prof. Dani upon receiving the award news. "Imaging dark excitons was one of the original problems I decided to tackle when I joined OIST in 2011. It was an almost century-old grand challenge, but there was no experimental technique to address it all these decades. In 2010, the discovery of 2D semiconductors, cousins of graphene, brought new hope to the problem. But it also brought its own challenges. By the 2010s, several of the world's leading research groups were working on the problem. But the solution was found on our little island, in our little institute, which had already begun to punch above its weight! " 

Prof. Dani continues, "I have no doubt that the real honor and credit for this achievement goes to OIST. It is our unique academic culture at OIST that has enabled creative, ambitious science. I appreciate the role that my OIST colleagues play in maintaining and supporting such an environment.” 

On Sept. 13, the Falling Walls Foundation will choose a laureate among the ten winners as the Science Breakthrough of the Year 2023 for each of the categories. Laureates will present at the Falling Walls Science Summit held in Berlin on November 9. 

You can read Prof. Dani’s interview article on the Falling Walls website: 

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