NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Two Rutgers University
physics professors in the School
of Arts and Sciences are
receiving major prizes from the American Physical Society in recognition of
their outstanding research.
The professors, Sang-Wook Cheong and Daniel Friedan, are
being honored for contributions to understanding the basic nature and
properties of materials. The work being cited is in a branch of physics known
as condensed matter physics, which deals with the physical properties of solid
and liquid matter.
Cheong, who is director of Rutgers Center
for Emergent Materials, received the society’s James C. McGroddy Prize for New
Materials. He shares the $10,000 award with professors doing related research
at the University of California, Santa Barbara,
and the University of California, Berkeley.
The prize recognizes Cheong’s work in understanding a class of materials called
“multiferroics,” materials which exhibit both magnetic properties and
electrical properties that resemble magnetism. The materials have potential to
add new capabilities to semiconductor electronics, boost solar cell efficiency
and increase the data storage capacity of hard disk drives.
Cheong joined Rutgers in
1997 after a distinguished research career at Bell Laboratories, originally
part of AT&T and now part of Alcatel-Lucent. In 2007, he received Korea’s Ho-Am
Prize in Science for investigating properties of materials that have potential
for high-performance electronic devices. A year later, he received the Korean
Broadcasting System Overseas Compatriots Award, given to ethnic Koreans living
overseas who have made distinguished contributions in promoting the image of
the people and culture of Korea.
Cheong is a resident of Chatham, N.J.
Friedan, who specializes in high energy physics theory and is
a member of the Rutgers
Center, received the
society’s Lars Onsager Prize. He shares that $10,000 award with collaborator
Stephen Shenker of Stanford University, who was a physics professor at Rutgers from 1989 to 1998.
The prize recognizes Friedan and Shenker for mathematical
descriptions of how complex materials behave. Their work examined “critical
phenomena,” where a material’s phases such as solid, liquid and gas converge or
coexist. Phases of complex materials also can be related to their electronic
and magnetic properties. The researchers’ formulas specify the types of
critical phenomena that can occur in nature or in theoretical models.
Friedan and Shenker specifically addressed material
properties in two dimensions, such as when one material is deposited on the
surface of another, and in one dimension, such as when electrons move along
quantum wires at very low temperatures. Quantum wires are so thin that
electrons act according to quantum mechanical rules that govern behavior at
atomic and subatomic dimensions.
Friedan joined Rutgers in 1989 as a co-founder of the Rutgers New High Energy Theory
internationally recognized leader in the development and exploration of string
theory. String theory is a branch of physics that aims to provide a unified
understanding of the basic forces and fundamental particles in nature. He was a
MacArthur Fellow in 1987.
Friedan is a resident of Princeton, N.J.
Both scientists are receiving their awards this week at the
American Physical Society’s annual March meeting in Portland, Ore.
Media Contact: Carl Blesch