Claudia Felser awarded the prestigious 2019 APS James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials

The American Physical Society (APS) has awarded the 2019 James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials to Prof. Claudia Felser, Managing Director at the Max Planck Institute Chemical Physics of Solids, and Prof. Bogdan Andrei Bernevig, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics, together with Xi Dai, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, “for the theoretical prediction, design and realization of non-magnetic and magnetic topological semi-metals and new types of topological insulators”. Materials are at the heart of breakthroughs in both fundamental and applied sciences. Such breakthroughs happen rarely but can have enormous impact. The APS James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials is the preeminent prize world-wide that recognizes such achievements. Felser and Bernevig are the leaders in one of the hottest current research topics today, namely, that of materials that have properties that are derived from the innate underlying topology of a material. This field of research is highly interdisciplinary and spans from chemistry to materials science to condensed matter physics. Topology goes beyond symmetry and allows topological materials to have some protection against certain perturbations of the material as well as unique properties derived from the topology. Of particular interest are electronic states that are localized in momentum or real space, characteristic of unusual Fermions, and which are innately chiral leading to properties such as extraordinarily high mobilities and negative magnetoresistance. In the work recognized by this prize, Bernevig made theoretical predictions that identified classes of materials, and Felser brought these materials to life via the growth of high-quality crystals and the characterization of their fundamental physical properties. Although the notion of topological materials is only a few years old, the range and breadth of topological materials and their astonishing properties are likely to continue to astound us and to give rise to useful devices with novel properties over the next few years.

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