- 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics
Scottish born British-American physicist. He was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics along with David Thouless and Duncan Haldane for work on condensed matter physics.
Education and Work Experience
1969, Ph.D. in High Energy Physics from Oxford University
1973, Postdoctoral Fellow at LASSP at Cornell University
1982-Present, Professor of Physics at Brown University
Honors and Awards
2016, Nobel Prize in Physics
2017, Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences
Major Academic Achievements
To describe phases and phase transitions Michael Kosterlitz used the concepts of topology, a branch of mathematics. For example, in the early 1970s he and David Thouless described phase transitions in thin layers at low temperatures. Physicists thought that two-dimensional materials would not have phase transitions, since any order that would arise would be wiped out by random thermal fluctuations. Phenomena like superfluidity and superconductivity could not happen without phase transitions. Kosterlitz and Thouless found a topological phase transition in which pairs of vortices form at cold temperatures and then disperse as the temperature increases. This change is known as the Kosterlitz-Thouless (KT) transition and appears in many other areas of physics.