Amir Yacoby, a condensed matter physicist whose work has illuminated the behavior of electrons confined to fewer than three dimensions, has been appointed professor of physics in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), effective July 1, 2006.
Yacoby, 41, was previously associate professor in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
“As a theorist and an experimentalist, Professor Yacoby brings both perspectives to his studies of electron interactions,” said Jeremy Bloxham, FAS dean for the physical sciences. “This dual outlook has allowed him to develop sophisticated probes of electron behavior. His research pushes condensed matter physics in enormously challenging yet exciting new directions, and I am delighted that he will be continuing his work here at Harvard.”
Yacoby’s study of the nature of interacting electrons in reduced dimensions has implications for a broad variety of physical systems. His attention to new research technologies is demonstrated by his recent creation of a single-electron transistor on the tip of a scanned probe microscope, a device used as a local charge sensor to characterize compressible and incompressible regions of electrons in a two-dimensional plane. This work succeeded in identifying localized regions of electrons confined within high-mobility, two-dimensional materials and measuring fractional charges in what is known as the fractional quantum Hall regime.
Yacoby has also developed a technique for studying electrical conduction in a one-dimensional wire. The restricted motion of electrons in one dimension reconfigures their excitations, resulting in elementary excitations that carry charge with no spin, and vice versa. Such systems are very difficult to realize experimentally owing to disorder along the wire.
Recently, Yacoby created a clever technique for studying the conduction of single organic molecules, trapping them between two colloidal gold particles, which are in turn trapped by electrostatic forces between electrodes.
Yacoby holds a B.Sc. in aeronautical engineering from Technion in Israel, and an M.Sc. in theoretical condensed matter physics and a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics from the Weizmann Institute. He served at Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies as a postdoctoral researcher from 1994 to 1996 and as a member of the technical staff from 1996 to 1997. He became an assistant professor at the Weizmann Institute in 1997 and was named associate professor in 2002.