Theoretical physicist Subir Sachdev, whose research has shed light on quantum wonders arising from the collective behavior of vast numbers of electrons in complex and novel materials, has been appointed professor of physics in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1, 2005. Sachdev comes to Harvard from Yale University, where he is currently professor of physics and applied physics.
“Subir Sachdev is an exceptionally talented and prolific physicist who has also demonstrated great skill as a teacher and mentor,” says William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. “His research contributions have made him one of the luminaries of his field and provided key insights into many new and technologically important materials. Professor Sachdev’s arrival will add tremendously to Harvard’s strength in quantum condensed matter physics.”
Driven primarily by innovations in materials science and engineering, quantum condensed matter physics – which seeks to understand the properties of solid materials from a fundamental microscopic perspective – has experienced great progress in the past two decades. Sachdev’s work in this field has focused on several of these new classes of materials, including high-temperature superconductors: crystals of oxygen, copper, and transition metals, which conduct electricity without resistance at relatively high temperatures. These materials are part of a larger class – ranging from transition metal oxides to heavy fermion materials – that don’t conform neatly to the quantum theory of solids developed over the past 70 years.
A native of New Delhi, Sachdev, 42, received an undergraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard in 1984 and 1985, respectively. After serving as a postdoctoral researcher for two years at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, he joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor in 1987. Sachdev has served as a visiting professor or scientist at a number of institutions, including Harvard and the University of Paris.
Author of more than 130 research papers published in refereed journals, Sachdev also wrote “Quantum Phase Transitions” (1999), a book that has been described as “required reading for any budding theorist.” Honors accorded Sachdev include the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1988, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 1989, the National Science Foundation’s Creativity Award in 1998, election as a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2001, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2003.