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Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize


Distinguished emeritus professor Alexei Efros

Distinguished emeritus professor Alexei Efros has received the 2019 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize by the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics and is named in honor of Oliver Ellsworth Buckley, a former president of Bell Labs.  Efros shares the award with colleague Boris Shklovskii, a theoretical physicist at the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota, and Elihu Abrahams, distinguished adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA

Born in Leningrad, Russia, now St. Petersburg, Efros obtained a master’s degree from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1961 and a Ph.D. in physics a year later from the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute. In 1986, he received the Landau Prize in theoretical physics from the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 as a visiting professor and distinguished scholar at the University of California, Riverside. He moved to the University of Utah in 1991 and became a distinguished professor in 1994.

The Buckley award citation reads: “For pioneering research in the physics of disordered materials and hopping conductivity.” The main achievements of the Efros–Shklovskii collaboration are the theory of the hopping conductivity of semiconductors, based upon the percolation approach and the prediction of the Coulomb Gap in the electronic density of states. The Coulomb Gap is demonstrated in the specific temperature dependence of the hopping conductivity and in the specific voltage dependence of the tunneling current from the semiconductor to metal.

Efros became an APS fellow in 1992 for his work on the theory of transport in disordered systems. In 1997, he received the Humboldt Prize from Germany and the Lady Davis Fellowship from Israel. In 2015, he returned to Russia and taught at the Academic University of St. Petersburg from 2015-2018. He lives in Salt Lake City.

“Alexei Efros is a pioneer in the field of disordered systems,” said Mikhail Raikh, professor of physics and astronomy at the U, and a friend and colleague to Efros since their days in St. Petersburg. “His work on the problem of hopping conductivity and insulator-metal transition was groundbreaking, and his models are still used to today. We are so proud he has received this award.”


Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics

Bill Sutherland, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Utah, was awarded the 2019 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, which he will share with Professor Michel Gaudin at the Institute for Advanced Study and Francesco Calogero, professor of physics at Sapienza University of Rome. The prize is one of the nation’s highest awards for physics — seven previous winners have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.

Established in 1959 by the Heineman Foundation, the Heineman Prize recognizes outstanding publications in the field of mathematical physics. Jointly administered by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Physical Society, the prize is funded by the Heineman Foundation in honor of Dannie Heineman, an engineer, executive, and philanthropist born in North Carolina but who spent most of his career in Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

“As I remember, Veronica (my wife) and I were sitting outside in the sun having lunch, when my good friend Sriram Shastry called me from the Bangalore airport to tell me I had been awarded the Dannie Heineman prize.  I was then grateful that Sriram had done the work needed for me to be considered, and pleased for Sriram’s sake that he was right — I certainly never expected his application to succeed,” Sutherland told AIP of his reaction to the news.

The citation for the 2019 prize reads: “For profound contributions to the field of exactly solvable models in statistical mechanics and many body physics, in particular the construction of the widely studied Gaudin magnet and the Calogero-Sutherland, Shastry-Sutherland, and Calogero-Moser models.”


PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Bill Sutherland

Bill Sutherland, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Utah, poses with a class he taught near the turn of the century.


Abrikosov vortices

Congratulations to Andrey Rogachev, associate professor, and Kevin Davenport, graduate research assistant! Their research, in association with an international team of physicists, was published in the October 8, 2018, issue of Nature Physics

Abrikosov vortices help scientists to explain inconsistencies in “dirty” superconductors theory

An international team of physicists, including scientists from the University of Grenoble, the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, and the University of Utah (Andrey Rogachev and Kevin Davenport) have explained anomalous low-temperature behavior of “dirty” superconductors. These materials possess various non-trivial properties which make them a necessary part of quantum computers with superconductive qubits. In a paper published in Nature Physics, scientists report how “dirty” superconductors can violate the conventional theory of superconductivity. With these results, it becomes possible to engineer superconductive qubits that are perfectly isolated from the outer disturbances and thus can be fully used for quantum computing.

Andrey Rogachev, associate professor (left) and Kevin Davenport, graduate research assistant (right)



Mountain-top observatory sees gamma rays from exotic Milky Way object

Space jets accelerate particles and send a high energy signal to Earth.

The night sky seems serene, but telescopes tell us that the universe is filled with collisions and explosions. Distant, violent events signal their presence by spewing light and particles in all directions. When these messengers reach Earth, scientists can use them to map out the action-packed sky, helping to better understand the volatile processes happening deep within space.
For the first time, an international collaboration of scientists, including physicists from the University of Utah, has detected highly energetic light coming from the outermost regions of an unusual star system within our own galaxy. The source is a microquasar—a black hole that gobbles up matter from a nearby companion star and blasts out powerful jets of material. The team’s observations, described in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Nature, strongly suggest that electron acceleration and collisions at the ends of the microquasar’s jets produced the powerful gamma rays. Scientists think that studying messengers from this microquasar may offer a glimpse into more extreme events happening at the centers of distant galaxies.

Full Unews Article


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