David M Ceperley

Founder Professor of Physics


David M Ceperley

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
2107 Engineering Sciences Building


Professor Ceperley received his BS in physics from the University of Michigan in 1971 and his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1976. After one year at the University of Paris and a second postdoc at Rutgers University, he worked as a staff scientist at both Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. In 1987, he joined the Department of Physics at Illinois. He was a staff scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications from 1987 until 2012.

Professor Ceperley's work can be broadly classified into technical contributions to quantum Monte Carlo methods and contributions to our physical or formal understanding of quantum many-body systems. His most important contribution is his calculation of the energy of the electron gas, providing basic input for most numerical calculations of electronic structure. He was one of the pioneers in the development and application of path integral Monte Carlo methods for quantum systems at finite temperature, such as superfluid helium and hydrogen under extreme conditions.

Professor Ceperley is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and to the UIUC Center for Advanced Studies.

Research Statement

Electronic Structure of Condensed Matter: The goals of our research are to develop computational methods for condensed matter starting from the fundamental many-body equations. The primary methods used are quantum Monte Carlo simulations, which can find exact properties of many-body systems and can be applied to diverse solids and liquids. We are combining these approaches to create new methods and to test the accuracy of calculations on materials. Current research includes studies of electron fluids, metalization of hydrogen at high pressure, simulations of solids and liquids as a function of temperature, and cold atom systems.



  • B. J. Alder CECAM Prize (2016)
  • Member International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences (2013)
  • Blue Waters Professor (2014)
  • Center for Advanced Studies Professor (2009)
  • Founder Professor of Engineering (2006)
  • National Academy of Science (2005)
  • Fellow, Institute of Physics (1999)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences (1999)
  • Xerox Faculty Award (1990)
  • Arnold O. Beckman Award, University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study, 1989
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship (1971)
  • Berni J. Alder CECAM Prize (2016)
  • Rahman Prize in Computational Physics of the American Physical Society (1998)
  • Feenberg Medal (1994)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (1990)

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Research
  • AMO Physics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Now, two teams at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, working together and attacking the problem from different physics disciplines, have shed new light on our understanding of disordered quantum materials. Professor Brian DeMarco and his group perform innovative experiments in atomic, molecular, and optical physics using ultracold atoms trapped in an optical lattice to simulate phenomena in solid materials. Professor David Ceperley and his group work in theoretical condensed matter physics; they perform supercomputing simulations to model phenomena in solid materials.

The two groups collaborated across physics disciplines to understand how disorder in a quantum material gives rise to an exotic quantum state called a Bose glass. The results are published in Nature Physics in the article, “Probing the Bose glass–superfluid transition using quantum quenches of disorder.”