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William Halperin and James Sauls are awarded London Prize

Prestigious international prize recognizes pioneering work in low-temperature physics

William Halperin
William Halperin
Northwestern University physicists William P. Halperin and James A. Sauls have been awarded the prestigious international Fritz London Memorial Prize for 2017. They share the prize with Jeevak Parpia of Cornell University. 

Awarded every three years, the London Prize recognizes scientists who have made outstanding experimental and theoretical contributions to the field of low-temperature physics. Eleven previous winners have also received the Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Halperin, Sauls and Parpia are cited by the selection committee for their pioneering work on the influence of disorder on the superfluidity of helium-3. Their results have provided “deep insights into the understanding of complex symmetry breaking in unconventionally paired condensed matter in the presence of disorder.” 

James Sauls
James Sauls

Halperin, an experimentalist, is the Orrington Lunt Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Sauls, a theorist, is professor of physics, both in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“Bill Halperin and Jim Sauls are pillars of the department,” said Michael Schmitt, chair of Weinberg College’s department of physics and astronomy. “It makes us extremely proud to see their work recognized with the Fritz London Memorial Prize. This special distinction is well deserved and reflects well on them, the department and Northwestern.”

Low-temperature physics explores how matter behaves at very low temperatures not far from absolute zero, as well as various phenomena that occur only at such temperatures. 

Awarded every three years, the prize recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the field of low-temperature physics.

Halperin’s research focuses on liquid helium-3 and superconductivity, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies of high-temperature superconductors and fluid transport in porous media.

Sauls’ research is in theoretical physics, currently focused on the role of symmetry breaking and topology on the properties of condensed matter. This involves the discovery of new concepts related to the collective behavior of enormous numbers of atomic constituents, combined with the application of statistical mechanics and quantum theory to describe the behavior of macroscopic matter.

Halperin, Sauls and Parpia will receive their prizes at the opening ceremony of the 28th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics to be held in Göteborg, Sweden, in August. 

The Fritz London Memorial Prize was first awarded in 1957. Fritz London was a distinguished European scientist who in 1939 emigrated to the United States where he became a professor of chemistry and physics at Duke University.