British trio — David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz — won Nobel Prize in Physics “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter” on Tuesday.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award the prize to Thouless from the University of Washington in Seattle, Haldane from the Princeton University in New Jersey, US, and Kosterlitz from the Brown University in New Jersey as they have used “advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films,
“In the early 1970s, Kosterlitz and Thouless overturned the then current theory that superconductivity or suprafluidity could not occur in thin layers. They demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures,” an official statement said.
“In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was precisely measured as integer steps. He showed that these integers were topological in their nature. At around the same time, Duncan Haldane discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials,” the statement added.
Their pioneering work has prompted the hunt for new and exotic phases of matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics, the statement said.
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 was awarded jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”.