As part of our Global Call for Nominations and search for the Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year, we invite leading actors in science and academia worldwide to nominate the latest breakthroughs and outstanding science projects in 10 different categories, Physical Sciences being one of them. In 2022, our distinguished jury for Physical Sciences, chaired by Daniel Zajfman, will select 10 excellent Winners in this category and award one of them with the title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year in Physical Sciences’.

We were looking for internationally recognised, established academics, and leaders in the observation and understanding of natural phenomena of the earth, atmosphere and space (e.g. chemistry, physics, astronomy), whose groundbreaking work contributes towards solving the world’s biggest challenges.

jury 2022

Counting more than 100 jurors across 10 categories, each breakthrough is determined by a distinguished world-class Jury under the leadership of renowned experts in their respective fields. We are delighted that Helga Nowotny, President Emerita of the European Research Council, is serving as the Chair of the Juries, presiding over the general selection process.

The Falling Walls Breakthrough of the Year 2022 in Physical Sciences is selected by a distinguished Jury chaired by Daniel Zajfman.

Global Call Winners 2022


Discover the Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year 2021 in Physical Sciences:

Falling Walls Foundation


Breaking the Wall to Light-Emitting Silicon
The ever-increasing amount of data raises an important question: How can information be transmitted at high speed yet at low cost? The current technology, based on copper wires, is reaching its ceiling due to the danger of overheating caused by electrical resistance. New techniques have tried to solve this problem by using light particles, but the materials used for this method are rare and costly. Elham Fadaly is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Applied Physics and Erik Bakkers is an award-winning Professor of Advanced Nanomaterials and Devices at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Along with an international team, they have made a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of optoelectronics by creating a silicon-based material that proved to be capable of emitting light efficiently and can thus be used for laser devices and high-speed communication. At Falling Walls, Elham and Erik will focus on how changing the molecular structure of silicon allows data to be transferred through light, at the speed of light and without generating heat.

Past Winners

Additional information for this category

When and where does the Falling Walls Science Summit 2022 take place?

After a fully digital Falling Walls Conference in 2020, we look forward to welcoming the people who are finding solutions to the greatest challenges of our time back to Berlin on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Please save the date: 7 – 9 November 2022.

The Falling Walls Science Summit will take place in Berlin.  Please save the date: 7 – 9 November 2022.

7 November

Falling Walls Pitches

A day of live pitches in the following categories: Emerging Talents (Falling Walls Lab) for the next generation of outstanding innovators. Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage) for inspiring science engagers. Science Start-Ups (Falling Walls Venture) for the science start-up community.

8 November

Falling Walls Circle – Challenges and Foresight

Our new format to connect science and society. Researchers, policymakers, business leaders, and society discuss the biggest challenges we face and the foresight that scientific breakthroughs can offer.

9 November

Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year

On the anniversary of the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, the conference provides a stage for outstanding research presented in inspiring presentations. For the 14th time, “the brightest minds on the planet“ (BBC) will showcase their work.

Why should you want to take part?

  • If selected, your work will be presented to a distinguished Jury.
  • If chosen as one of the 10 Winners in Physical Sciences, you will have the opportunity to feature your winning project in a short video in our content library.
  • If chosen as ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ 2022 in Physical Sciences:
    • You will be invited to present on stage in Berlin (or via livestream), and reach a global audience.
    • We will use our expertise and years of experience in science communication and work with you to help make your research accessible and engaging to a wide audience, and to highlight its impact on society.
    • You will be offered individual professional coaching to prepare you for your talk.
    • You will have an opportunity to interact with a wide range of decision-makers, innovators and emerging talents from all over the world, working in many different disciplines and sectors, and join a community committed to bringing down barriers to address common challenges.

Who can take part?

  • Nominations are open to all sub-disciplines in Physical Sciences, e.g. chemistry, physics, astronomy.
  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ in Physical Sciences can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups. However, research groups will need to determine one person who represents the group and presents their work.
  • Participants confirm that their work has never been presented on the Falling Walls stage before.
  • Participants can be nominated again with a different project/research topic.

What are the selection criteria?

We are looking for individual scientists as well as research groups of outstanding quality who

  • have made excellent, ground-breaking, recent achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength;
  • promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and humanity, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society.

Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the category, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed.

How does the nomination and selection process work?


Leading actors in science and academia worldwide can nominate individual scientists or research groups by submitting a short nomination form via our website by 31 May 2022. The Nominee will be contacted directly and asked to submit further details.


If Nominees are selected, they will then become a Falling Walls Finalist. All Finalists will be officially announced on our website.


Our distinguished jury for Physical Sciences, chaired by Daniel Zajfman, will select 10 Winners. Each Winner will have the opportunity to feature their winning project in a short video in our content library. A detailed briefing will be provided for this purpose.


The respective juries will select the Science Breakthroughs of the Year from the Winners of each category. On 9 November, the Breakthroughs of the Year will receive the opportunity to present their work to a global audience on the grand Falling Walls stage in Berlin.

Who can nominate?

We are asking leading academics and academic institutions, universities, research organisations, companies, private and public research centres, academies, research funders, foundations, and individuals to nominate the latest breakthroughs in Physical Sciences. In rare exceptions, direct nominations may be considered. For more information on whether your project qualifies,  please contact us at

Who can I contact in case I have a question about this category?

More Pages