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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Dirac Medal winners share close ties with Perimeter

account_circle By Stephanie Keating
Subir Sachdev, Dam Thanh Son, and Xiao-Gang Wen have been recognized for their outstanding work on many-body systems.

Three distinguished researchers with strong ties to Perimeter Institute have won the prestigious 2018 Dirac Medal and Prize from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics.

Subir Sachdev holds the Cenovus Energy James Clerk Maxwell Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute (Visiting), while Dam Thanh Son and Xiao-Gang Wen are both Perimeter Distinguished Visiting Research Chairs. They shared the prize “for their independent contributions toward understanding novel phases in strongly interacting many-body systems, introducing original cross-disciplinary techniques.”

Classical phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas) and the way those materials transition between phases (such as water transitioning from a solid to a liquid when it melts) are relatively well understood, but their quantum counterparts are much more mysterious.

The three winners have each made pioneering contributions to understanding new quantum phases of matter and their transitions, which can drastically change the properties of a material. A deeper understanding of quantum matter and the dynamics of many-body systems will have implications for the design of new materials and their applications, including room-temperature superconductors and quantum computers.

“We extend our heartiest congratulations to Subir Sachdev, Dam Thanh Son, and Xiao-Gang Wen for such a highly-deserved recognition,” said Perimeter Faculty Chair Luis Lehner. “Their pioneering and ground-breaking research has paved the way to exciting developments in theoretical physics, and we are proud to count them as members of our research community.”

Subir Sachdev is the Herchel Smith Professor of Physics at Harvard University and one of the world’s top experts in condensed matter physics. Sachdev was also awarded the 2018 Lars Onsager Prize from the American Physical Society for his contributions to the theory of quantum phase transitions, quantum magnetism, and fractionalized spin liquids, and for his leadership in the physics community.

Dam Thanh Son is a University Professor in the Department of Physics at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. His work has spanned topics including quantum chromodynamics, theoretical nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, and atomic physics.

Xiao-Gang Wen is a Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), whose expertise lies in the condensed matter theory of strongly correlated electronic systems. He introduced the notion of topological order in 1989 and quantum order in 2002 to describe a new class of matter states, opening entirely new research directions in condensed matter physics.

The Dirac Medal is named in honour of P.A.M. Dirac, one of the most eminent physicists of the 20th century. It is awarded annually by the ICTP to scientists who have made significant contributions to theoretical physics.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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