Xiao-Gang Wen, a world-leading theoretical physicist, is moving from MIT to Perimeter Institute. Wen comes to Ontario, Canada as the inaugural holder of the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute. At MIT, he held the Cecil and Ida Green Professorship in Physics.
The prestigious position was funded by a $4 million gift from the BMO Financial Group, matched by another $4 million from Perimeter’s existing endowment. It is anticipated this private core funding will attract additional funding partners.
Announced in November 2010, this investment was the largest single donation ever made by BMO to support science and technology in Canada, and the largest corporate donation ever received by Perimeter, which is propelled by an innovative public-private partnership model.
"This investment is a game-changer. Last fall, when we announced BMO’s support in attracting even more of the best theoretical physicists to Canada, we were confident that this chair, in particular, would be a magnet for talent," said Bill Downe, President and Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. "Dr. Wen is a scientist of exceptional global stature, someone who is pushing the boundaries in an area of science where the potential applications are simply enormous. It’s an opportunity not only to enhance innovation in Canada, but also to establish our leadership position in new quantum technologies."
The BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute is the first of five chairs planned by the Perimeter Institute, to be named after scientists whose insights defined modern physics. The first Chair is named for Sir Isaac Newton, considered by many to be one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers in human history. He described the universal laws of gravitation and motion, laying the groundwork for the modern scientific description of the universe.
"We are thrilled that Xiao-Gang Wen is joining Perimeter as the first holder of the BMO Newton Chair," says Neil Turok, the Institute's Director. "Newton founded the laws of forces and motion, paving the way for all modern mechanical engineering. In the same spirit, Xiao-Gang Wen introduced the notion of topological order, which has already led to a deeper understanding of phenomena such as superconductivity and which holds the promise of an entirely new paradigm for describing and predicting the behaviour of quantum materials. Xiao-Gang's work is bold, interdisciplinary and far-reaching: exactly the kind of research to which Perimeter aspires."
At Perimeter, Wen, and three postdoctoral researchers he plans to bring aboard, will form the core of a growing condensed matter group. At the same time, Wen looks forward to collaborating with Perimeter experts in other fields. "My research is very interdisciplinary, which helps me find totally new topics that expand the boundary of our knowledge of nature — unexplored areas of physics that no one has touched before," he says. "All in all, it fits Perimeter’s philosophy and research model very well."