6 November 2014

MagLab researcher wins prestigious Buckley Prize

For the second time in two years, a physicist associated with the MagLab has won the prestigious Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Arthur F. Hebard, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab) affiliated faculty at the University of Florida, has been awarded the 2015 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize.

Arthur HebardArthur Hebard.

Presented by the American Physical Society, Hebard shares this year's Buckley Prize with Allen Goldman (University of Minnesota), Aharon Kapitulnik (Stanford University) and Matthew Fisher (University of California, Santa Barbara) for "discovery and pioneering investigations of the superconductor-insulator transition, a paradigm for quantum phase transitions."

Working with very thin films of indium oxide, Hebard's research aimed to understand what happens to superconductivity when you introduce and control disorder, or irregularities in crystal lattice structure. Superconductivity means that a material conducts electricity without resistance at very low temperatures, in contrast to an insulator, which does not conduct electricity at all.

While Hebard's award-winning work was performed at Bell Labs over nearly a decade, it has inspired further research on superconducting materials and the quantum phase transition to insulating states at the National MagLab.

"I am very proud of this work because it is fundamental physics that continues to lead to new and exciting discoveries," Hebard said.

Earlier this year, for example, National MagLab researcher Dragana Popović published a paper in Nature Physics — "Two-stage magnetic-field-tuned superconductor-insulator transition in underdoped La2-xSrxCuO4" — about the discovery of two distinct phase transitions between the insulator and superconducting state.

Hebard's newest research area at the University of Florida explores the impact of disorder on itinerant ferromagnets, or materials where magnetism is associated with moving electrons.

Last year's Buckley Prize winner, Philip Kim, is also a frequent National MagLab user in the DC Field Facility and a member of the lab's External Advisory Committee. He was honored for his work discovering unconventional electronic properties of graphene.

"We are thrilled that the past two winners have such a strong National MagLab connection," said MagLab Director Greg Boebinger. "It really speaks to the quality of research occurring here at the lab."

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is the world’s largest and highest-powered magnet facility. Located at Florida State University, the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the interdisciplinary National MagLab hosts scientists from around the world to perform basic research in high magnetic fields, advancing our understanding of materials, energy and life. The lab is funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1157490) and the state of Florida. For more information, visit us online at nationalmaglab.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at NationalMagLab.