Leggett to be inducted to Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame

Siv Schwink
9/17/2015

Anthony Leggett, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois
Anthony Leggett, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois
Anthony Leggett, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois, will be inducted into the 2015 Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame tomorrow. He is among six selected for this distinction this year for significant achievements in leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation of great impact to society.

The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, September 18, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology  (405 N Mathews Ave., Urbana). It is for the first time this year part of a wider celebration: Impact Day will celebrate University of Illinois engineering students, faculty, and staff whose accomplishments drive the economy, reimagine engineering education, and bring revolutionary ideas to the world.

The ceremony is open to friends, family, and supporters, and Physics students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

Leggett’s research interests lie mainly within the fields of theoretical condensed matter physics and the foundations of quantum mechanics. He is a world-renowned authority on the theory of low-temperature physics. Over the course of his career, his work has shaped our theoretical understanding of normal and superfluid helium liquids and other strongly coupled superfluids and has set directions for research in the quantum physics of macroscopic dissipative systems and use of condensed systems to test the foundations of quantum mechanics. In 2003, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics “for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids.”

Leggett is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences (foreign member), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society (U.K.), the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (U.K.). He was knighted (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 "for services to physics."

Leggett has a long history of service to the global scientific community and is currently the director of the Shanghai Center for Complex Physics, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and a distinguished visiting professor at the National University of Singapore. He is also the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Distinguished Research Chair at the Institute of Quantum Computing and Department of Physics and Astronomy, at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Leggett is the recipient of numerous academic honors, including the Distinguished Service Medallion of the University of Illinois (2009), the Wolf Foundation Prize for research on condensed forms of matter (with B. I. Halperin, 2002/03), and the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal (1999). He is also noted for his dedication to and excellence in training the next generation of scientists.

Leggett received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Merton College, Oxford University, in 1961, graduating with first class honors. He received his doctoral degree in physics from Magdalen College, Oxford University, in 1964. He holds honorary degrees from universities of Sussex, Oxford, British Columbia, St.Andrews, Tokyo, and Universidad Complutense (Madrid,Spain). He joined the physics faculty at Illinois in 1983.

Recent News

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Theory

We analyze the interplay between a d-wave uniform superconducting and a pair-density-wave (PDW) order parameter in the neighborhood of a vortex. We develop a phenomenological nonlinear sigma model, solve the saddle-point equation for the order-parameter configuration, and compute the resulting local density of states in the vortex halo. The intertwining of the two superconducting orders leads to a charge density modulation with the same periodicity as the PDW, which is twice the period of the charge density wave that arises as a second harmonic of the PDW itself. We discuss key features of the charge density modulation that can be directly compared with recent results from scanning tunneling microscopy and speculate on the role PDW order may play in the global phase diagram of the hole-doped cuprates.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Now, a novel sample-growing technique developed at the U. of I. has overcome these obstacles. Developed by physics professor James Eckstein in collaboration with physics professor Tai-Chang Chiang, the new “flip-chip” TI/SC sample-growing technique allowed the scientists to produce layered thin-films of the well-studied TI bismuth selenide on top of the prototypical SC niobium—despite their incompatible crystalline lattice structures and the highly reactive nature of niobium.

These two materials taken together are ideal for probing fundamental aspects of the TI/SC physics, according to Chiang: “This is arguably the simplest example of a TI/SC in terms of the electronic and chemical structures. And the SC we used has the highest transition temperature among all elements in the periodic table, which makes the physics more accessible. This is really ideal; it provides a simpler, more accessible basis for exploring the basics of topological superconductivity,” Chiang comments.