The prize recognizes Millis‘ outstanding research in condensed matter physics, a field focusing on atomic and molecular interactions in solids and liquids. His work enables calculations that predict electronic properties of materials, including electrical conductivity and the tendency to magnetism. Millis has made landmark discoveries in properties of superconducting materials and has made essential contributions to the understanding of high transition-temperature superconductivity in copper-oxide materials.
While most superconductors must be cooled to extremely low temperatures to reach lossless conductivity — a time-consuming and expensive process — a few are superconducting at much higher temperatures. Millis’ research has enhanced understanding of these special materials, and his recent work may provide a path to pushing the temperature threshold for superconductivity even higher, perhaps all the way to room temperature.
Millis studied physics at Harvard University and received a doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986. He then worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1996 Millis was appointed professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and three years later moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey. In 2001 he joined the physics department at Columbia University, where he served as Department Chair from 2006 – 2009. He has been Associate Director for Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation since 2011, a large U.S. foundation whose mission is to advance mathematics and basic research. Starting Sept 1, 2017 he will also be co-Director of the Center for Computational Quantum Physics at the Simons Foundation’s new Flatiron Institute.
The Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics, jointly awarded by the Joachim Herz Stiftung and The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), comes with an award of 40,000 Euros and the opportunity to conduct research and teach in Hamburg, Germany.
The award ceremony will take place on 9 November 2017 during the annual CUI Colloquium at Science Campus Bahrenfeld in Hamburg.