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US researcher receives prize for work on superconductivity

The Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics, which includes prize money of 40,000 euros, was presented to the American physicist Andrew Millis today. Millis receives the prize in recognition of his work in the field of solid-state physics. In particular, his research into lossless electricity transmission at elevated temperatures is considered to be pioneering. The prize has been awarded by the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI) and the Joachim Herz Stiftung since 2010.

From left: Dr. Henneke Lütgerath, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Joachim Herz Stiftung, Katharina Fegebank, Hamburg’s Deputy Mayor and Minister of Science, Prof. Andrew Millis and Prof. Jan Louis, Vice President of Universität Hamburg. © Joachim Herz Stiftung/Claudia Höhne

It’s a vision that could revolutionize energy supplies: lossless electricity transmission, otherwise known as superconductivity. This could be the key to our needing fewer power plants and fewer emissions to meet the energy requirements of modern-day societies. Currently, we only know of materials that allow superconductivity at extremely low temperatures. With the computational models that American physicist Andrew Millis has helped to develop, it is possible to understand whether materials have the ability to be superconductive, thus potentially making lossless electricity transmission at room temperature a reality. The scientist was presented with the Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics today for this and his other contributions to solid-state physics research. Millis accepted the prize at a ceremony held on the Bahrenfeld Campus in the presence of Hamburg’s Deputy Mayor and Minister of Science Katharina Fegebank.

Willing to branch out to discover new things

“Professor Millis is a highly creative scientist and someone who is willing to branch out in order to discover new things. It is thanks to this attribute that he has provided his discipline with a great deal of momentum and has highlighted new ways of solving current problems. I firmly believe the jury made an excellent choice in presenting him with this prize,” said Chairman of the Executive Board of the Joachim Herz Stiftung, Dr. Henneke Lütgerath, at the award ceremony.

Millis earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986. He subsequently worked as a research assistant at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1996, Millis became a professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey three years later. He has been professor of physics at Columbia University since 2002. Since 2011, he has additionally served as associate director for physics at the Simons Foundation, one of the largest scientific foundations in the USA. Millis is now co-director of the Center for Computational Quantum Physics at the Simons Foundation’s new internal research division, the Flatiron Institute.

Teaching and research stays in Hamburg

As the prizewinner, Millis will be coming to Hamburg for teaching and research visits. In addition to enabling discussion with established scientists, the aim of the Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics is to also facilitate exchange with up-and-coming researchers. Millis will therefore also be giving seminars for graduate students.

“I am delighted to receive this prize and I look forward to my time in Hamburg. I am excited to meet the Hamburg research groups and I am sure we will develop a great many new ideas together,” said Millis in his acceptance speech.

The CUI has high expectations of the prizewinner’s research and teaching sojourns. “Andrew Millis is an outstanding scientist who has made important contributions to superconductor physics and a whole lot more. We are all very much looking forward to engaging in some interesting talks with him,” said Prof. Klaus Sengstock, Chairman of the Selection Committee and CUI spokesperson, with reference to Millis’s visits to Hamburg.