Three scientists, one Japanese and two Belgians, were selected as recipients of the 1998 Japan Prize, the Tokyo-based Science and Technology Foundation of Japan announced Friday in Tokyo.

The annual award is given to individuals whose research or discoveries have contributed to the wealth of mankind and world peace. Leo Esaki, the president of the University of Tsukuba, received the award for his seminal work with man-made superlattice crystals and his 1969 proposal that they have unique electrical properties. Esaki, 72, a Nobel laureate in 1973 for physics, was selected the winner in the new materials field. His research paved the way for scientists and researchers to create the conductor laser, which is indispensable to optical communication, said Shojiro Asai, director and general manager of Hitachi’s Corporate Research and Development Promotion Office.

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