Valerii Vinokur, a distinguished fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, has been awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize for his work in condensed matter and theoretical physics.
Given every three years, the prestigious award recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the field of low temperature physics. It boasts a list of highly impressive recipients, including several Nobel Laureates.
Over the past two decades, Vinokur, a senior scientist in Argonne’s Materials Science division, has made significant contributions to understanding topological properties of matter and their related phase transitions, and his work has shaped the course of low temperature physics.
“Our discoveries are opening routes for the design of new materials with properties not seen before that will have potential applications in quantum sensing, quantum computing and other avenues of quantum information science.” — Valerii Vinokur, Argonne senior scientist and distinguished fellow
Vinokur’s research has especially focused on understanding topological quantum matter and superconductivity. In recent years, Valerii has made seminal strides in understanding the role of topological interactions between vortices and Cooper pairs in disordered superconductors.
His research was crowned by the discovery of a novel superinsulating state of matter in disordered superconducting films. The state is similar — but opposite — to superconductivity in that it possesses infinite resistance. Working together with fellow theorists Cristina Diamantini from the University of Perugia in Italy and Carlo Trugenberger from SwissScientific Technologies in Switzerland, he unraveled the topological nature of the superconductor-insulator transition.
This work established remarkable correspondence between superconductivity and particle physics and enabled Vinokur, together with experimentalists from the University of Chicago and Novosibirsk University, to conduct the first ever desktop experimental demonstration of two fundamental phenomena in particle physics — asymptotic freedom and confinement. Overall, his work promotes foundational understanding of quantum systems that have behavior governed by the interplay of quantum fluctuations, topological properties of quantum matter, strong correlations and disorder.
The importance and impact of Vinokur’s work is reflected in his publication record. He is included in the Institute for Scientific Information’s (ISI) list of Highly Cited Researchers in physics, with over 377 publications, over 21,560 career citations and a Hirsh index of h=63.
In addition to his fundamental contributions to science, Valerii has organized a multitude of topical workshops, conferences and visiting programs on the most pressing topics in condensed matter physics, based on his conviction that the best science is done by bringing bright people together in a nurturing environment.
“The awarded work grew from our joint synergistic research on vortex physics in Argonne’s Superconductivity and Magnetism group, led first by George Crabtree and then by Wai Kwok, which led to the theoretical study of superconductor-insulator transition,” said Vinokur. “Going forward, my experimentalist colleagues and I envision a trove of exciting future developments at Argonne. Our discoveries are opening routes for the design of new materials with properties not seen before that will have potential applications in quantum sensing, quantum computing and other avenues of quantum information science.”
The award celebrates and honors Vinokur’s scientific contributions to low temperature physics, disordered correlated systems and quantum phase transitions of topological matter, as well as the impact of his work in advancing theory and experiment in the field.
“This is a wonderful and welcome honor for Valerii, Argonne and the Materials Science division, reflecting the laboratory’s strength in basic science and its importance to our societal prosperity and security,” said George Crabtree, director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne. “Valerii has created a unique DOE-sponsored scientific program, attracting the best talent from all over the world and targeting the most important cutting-edge problems of modern physics.”
Vinokur will receive the award, sponsored by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, at the 29th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics in Sapporo, Japan this August.
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