Shoko Manako, 33
In March, Shoko Manako was named a "Young Researcher of the Year" by the Japan Society of Applied Physics. The purpose of the award is to encourage young Japanese scientists in their work. Then again, given the success Manako has achieved, she may not need much encouragement.
After graduating from Toho University in 1989, Manako went to work on new synthesis methods for high-temperature superconductors. She presented a paper based on that work to a 1989 meeting of the Society of Applied Physics and her career took off. Since then, Manako has spearheaded research at NEC to further develop next-generation methods using electron beams (rather than light) to etch features onto computer chips.
In particular, Manako has fabricated patterns in a polymer resist (the material used to pattern semiconductor chips) as small as 7 nanometers wide. "This width is the most narrow resist pattern that has ever been obtained in the world, and gives a way to a new device such as a quantum-effect device," says Kiminari Shinagawa of Toho University.