31 October 2007

Christopher Pethick wins Onsager Prize

The Lars Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society for 2008 has been awarded to Christopher Pethick, Nordita Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, for work on quantum liquids.

The prize was awarded in part for work on his main current research interest, the properties of ultra cold atomic gases, typically at temperatures only one millionth of a degree above the absolute zero. This is an area of research which was initiated only a decade ago, but which is actively pursued worldwide because of the possibilities it opens up for observing quantum phenomena, and the prospects for applications.

At the Niels Bohr Institute there are active research groups in both theory and experiment. Also mentioned in the citation is earlier work on the traditional quantum liquids, helium-3 and helium-4, for which many of the basic concepts used to understand quantum phenomena in ultra cold gases were developed.

Besides the above areas, Christopher Pethick has also worked extensively on dense matter in atomic nuclei and neutron stars, another area where the challenge is to understand the behaviour of systems with many interacting particles.

He receives the prize together with Gordon Baym, (University of Illinois, and an adjunct professor at the Niels Bohr Institute), with whom he has collaborated for many years, and Jason Ho (Ohio State University, and a former Nordita postdoc in Copenhagen).