Peter E Schiffer



Peter E Schiffer

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
420 Swanlund Administration Building

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Peter Schiffer is Professor of Physics and Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

His personal research as a condensed matter experimental physicist focuses on artificial spin ice, geometrically frustrated magnets and other magnetic materials. He has co-authored more than 175 papers, and is the recipient of a Career Award from the National Science Foundation, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the Army Research Office, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship recipient, and he received the Faculty Scholar Medal in the Physical Sciences and the Joel and Ruth Spira Award for Teaching Excellence from Penn State. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has served as the chair of the American Physical Society Topical Group on Magnetism and its Applications, the program chair of the Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, and the chair of the Division of Materials Physics in the American Physical Society.  His research has been funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, DARPA, and NASA, among other organizations.

As Vice Chancellor for Research, Dr. Schiffer has responsibility for the campus research enterprise.  In this role, he provides leadership for campus-wide interdisciplinary research institutes, promotes new research initiatives, and oversees the administrative and business processes that ensure the productive, safe, and ethical conduct of research at Illinois. 

Before joining Illinois, Dr. Schiffer served in a number of administrative, faculty, and research roles at Pennsylvania State University.  Prior to that, he was on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, and performed postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories.  He received his B.S. from Yale University in 1988 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1993.

Research Area: Experimental condensed matter physics; measurements of magnetic oxides, geometrically frustrated magnets, and magnetic nanostructures

Research Statement

Novel magnetic materials are important technologically and also provide excellent model systems in which to explore new physics. Recent research topics under study by Professor Schiffer's group include geometrically frustrated magnets, in which the spins enter cooperative spin liquid and spin ice phases at low temperatures; exotic oxides that display both magnetic and electronic order; and frustrated lattices of interacting ferromagnetic nanostructures, in which the local accommodation of frustration can be directly observed.


  • Fellow, American Physical Society (2004)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (1998)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), Army Research Office (1997)
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1997)
  • Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Teaching Excellence, Eberly College of Science, Pennsylvania State University (2008)
  • Faculty Scholar Medal in the Physical Sciences, Pennsylvania State University (2006)

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Physicist Peter Schiffer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source, and with other researchers nationwide, has realized a nanoscale, artificial magnet by arranging an array of magnetic nano-islands along a geometry that is not found in natural magnets. Their paper “Emergent reduced dimensionality by vertex frustration in artificial spin ice” is published online in Nature Physics (26 Oct 2015, DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS3520).