Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics
In order to strengthen and promotephoto science research in Hamburg and to increase international visibility, the prestigious “Hamburger Preis für theoretische Physik” was established in 2010 by the state-funded Cluster of Excellence “Frontiers in Quantum Photon Science” at the University of Hamburg, which was also supported by the Joachim Herz Foundation.
Starting in 2013, the prize was awarded by the Hamburg Center for Ultrfast Imaging (CUI) and the Joachim Herz Foundation and comprised an award certificate as well as and a personal prize money of € 40.000 in personal prize money. As of 2018, the prize will be awarded together with the Joachim Herz Foundation and the Wolfgang Pauli Centre (WPC) of the University of Hamburg and DESY. It now involves all areas of theoretical physics and is endowed with € 137.036 in total – a figure that plays on Sommerfeld’s fine-structure constant, - and is thereby one of the most valuable German prizes for physics. The prize winner is expected to interact with the cluster´s research groups, especially with its young researchers (e.g. via lectures and seminars) during one or more visits to Hamburg.
Nominations may be submitted by Hamburg physics institutes, the Board of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e. V. (DPG), as well as former awardees and jury members. The award ceremony takes place an international theoretical physics conference in Hamburg in November.
Previous recipients of the award are Prof. Maciej Lewenstein (2010), Prof. Peter Zoller (2011), Prof. Shaul Mukamel (2012), Prof. Chris H. Greene (2013), Prof. Antoine Georges (2014), Prof. Ignacio Cirac (2015), Prof. Mikhail Katsnelson (2016), Prof. Andrew Millis (2017) and Hirosi Ooguri (2018).
This year’s Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics will be presented to Austrian Matthias Troyer, a professor at ETH Zurich and quantum computing researcher at software company Microsoft. He is receiving the prize for his contributions to the development of quantum Monte Carlo algorithms.
Using random numbers, these algorithms can predict how tiny particles will interact within quantum mechanical many-body systems such as atoms and molecules. As a result, Troyer is playing a key role in basic research and the ongoing development of quantum computers and superconductive materials. He is one of just a handful of leading international researchers in this field. The Joachim Herz Stiftung awards the prize in conjunction with the Wolfgang Pauli Centre (WPC) at the University of Hamburg, DESY, and the Cluster of Excellence “CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter” at the University of Hamburg.
This year’s Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics will be awarded to the Japanese scientist Hirosi Ooguri. Ooguri, born in 1962, is a professor at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena (USA). He is one of the world’s leading experts on so-called topological string theory, which addresses mathematical aspects of superstring theory – an important path towards an all-encompassing theory on the nature of our universe. Ooguri will be presented with the award on November 7, 2018 at the Hamburg Planetarium.
Ooguri´s research deals with mathematical superstring theory. Ooguri has succeeded in enabling many physical phenomena to be computed with the aid of string theory. He was able to overcome many of the major mathematical difficulties of string theory. Moreover, Ooguri’s research on the quantum mechanics of black holes continues the research of physicist Stephen Hawking, who died earlier this year.
Ooguri arrived at Caltech in 2000 as a professor for theoretical physics. He is Fred Kavli Professor and Director of the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics. Moreover, he is a principal investigator of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo, and has recently been appointed President of the Aspen Center for Physics in Colorado, USA.
Ooguri has received numerous awards. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to name but one, and has also received the Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics from the American Mathematical Society.
This year's Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics, jointly awarded by the Joachim Herz Stiftung and The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), will be given to Andrew Millis, Professor at Columbia University in New York and Associate Director for Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation.
The prize recognizes, the U.S. physicist for his outstanding research in condensed matter physics, a field focusing on atomic and molecular interactions in solids and liquids. His work enables calculations that predict electronic properties of materials, including electrical conductivity and the tendency to magnetism. He has made landmark discoveries in properties of superconducting materials (which can conduct electric current without losses).
While most superconductors must be cooled to extremely low temperatures to reach lossless conductivity - a time-consuming and expensive process - a few are superconducting at much higher temperatures. Millis' research has enhanced our understanding of these special materials, and his recent work may provide a path to pushing the temperature threshold for superconductivity even higher, perhaps all the way to room temperature.
Millis studied physics at Harvard University and received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986. He then worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1996 Millis was appointed professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and three years later moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey. In 2001 he joined the physics department at Columbia University, where he served as Department Chair from 2006 - 2009. Since 2011 he has been Associate Director for Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation, a large U.S. foundation whose mission is to advance mathematics and basic research. Starting Sept 1, 2017 he will also be co-Director of the Center for Computational Quantum Physics at the Simons Foundation's new Flatiron Institute.
Prof. Katsnelson is working on the quantum mechanical many-body theory, the theory of strongly correlated systems, and the quantum theory of magnetism as well as of graphene. Katsnelson is a researcher with an extraordinary broad range of interests. His work on graphene has greatly profited from his versatile expertise and methodology. Graphene has many remarkable characteristics and can be applied to very different fields of science.
Mikhail Katsnelson published his first scientific papers at the age of 17 and started his academic career in the former Soviet Union. After passing the Master of Science examination in Theoretical Physics at the Department of Physics at Ural State University, Sverdlovsk, he received his PhD in Solid State Physics at the Institute of Metal Physics (Sverdlovsk) in 1980 and his DSc in 1985. Seven years later he was appointed to a professorship for Solid State Physics and for Mathematical Physics at Ural State University. In 2004, after spending two years in Sweden as visiting professor at Uppsala University, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, appointed him to a professorship. He is head of the group “Theory of Condensed Matter”.
Prof. Dr. Ignacio Cirac
The recipient of the 2015 “Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics” is Prof. Dr. Ignacio Cirac, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching and head of the Theory Division.
Ignacio Cirac studied theoretical physics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid where he received his PhD in 1991. He began his career in physics as a “Professor Titular” at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha where he stayed until 1996. In 1996 he became a Professor at the department of Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck. Since 2001 he has been Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching and head of the Theory Division.
Prof. Cirac develops methods to describe and control atoms, molecules and photons on the basis of quantum mechanics. His quantum physics models are particularly pioneering for the control and storage of information, which is, for instance, important for the development of quantum computers. Cirac’s methods also make major contributions to other fields like solid state physics, superconductivity and recently even the simulation of models of particle physics.
Honors and Awards (selection)
Felix Kuschenitz Preis, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2001,
Quantum Electronics Prize, European Science Foundation, 2005,
Royal Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize, 2006,
International Quantum Communication Award, 2006, together with Professor Peter Zoller,
Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences, BBVA Foundation, 2009,
Benjamin Franklin Medal, Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, 2009, together with Professor Peter Zoller,
Israeli Wolf Prize and Niels Bohr Medal, 2013,
Honorary Doctor from the University of Zaragoza, 2014,
Honorary Doctor from the University of Valencia as well as the Universitat Politècnica de València, 2015.