Oct. 15, 1998
Vol. 18, No. 2

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    Physics alumnus wins Nobel Prize

    University of Chicago physics alumnus Daniel Tsui has received a share of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on a new type of frictionless fluid made up of electrons. Tsui is the 70th Nobel laureate associated with the University as a student, faculty member or researcher.

    A professor in electrical engineering at Princeton University, Tsui received his Ph.D. in physics at Chicago in 1967.

    He shares the Nobel physics prize with Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and Horst Stormer of Columbia University for discovering that electrons, the building blocks of matter, interact with one another in new and unusual ways when subjected to a strong magnetic field.

    Tsui and Stormer made their discovery in 1982 during an experiment at Bell Laboratories. Within a year, Laughlin, a theorist, succeeded in explaining their discovery.

    "It's an interesting and rather exotic development that opened an entirely new field and created many interesting and important questions in physics," said Woowon Kang, Assistant Professor in Physics at Chicago. "It has stimulated many theoretical and experimental breakthroughs applicable to other fields in physics."

    Kang worked with Stormer as a postdoctoral researcher at Bell Laboratories from 1992 to 1994 and still collaborates with him on projects directly related to the Nobel research.

    Thomas Rosenbaum, Professor in Physics at the University and Director of the James Franck Institute, knew Tsui when both worked at Bell Labs in the early 1980s.

    "Tsui and Stormer developed new materials that were very clean and allowed a thin sheet of electrons to interact in new ways," Rosenbaum said.

    "When electrons are in this environment, they actually become a fluid that is highly choreographed. You can think of them as connected in different ways than they were able to be connected before."