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Illinois professor awarded the 2002/3 Wolf Prize in Physics

James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073; kloeppel@illinois.edu


1/15/2003


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Anthony J. Leggett, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been selected as a recipient of the 2002/3 Wolf Prize in physics. He shares the prize with Bertrand I. Halperin of Harvard University.

Leggett, 64, who holds the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chair of Physics and is a professor in the Center for Advanced Study at Illinois, is being recognized for "his theory of superfluidity of the light helium isotope at very low temperatures, for his exploration of macroscopic quantum coherence and for his contribution to the study of dissipation processes in quantum systems, that cannot be ignored in practical applications."

Leggett’s groundbreaking theoretical work has helped provide a better understanding of both high-temperature superconductivity and low-temperature superfluidity (frictionless flow). He was cited in the announcement of the 1996 Nobel Prize in physics for assisting the prize winners in their interpretation of the experiments that led to a breakthrough in low-temperature physics.
His areas of research also have included foundations of quantum mechanics and the thermal and acoustic properties of glass.

A native of London, Leggett earned his doctorate in physics from Oxford University in 1964. He worked at Illinois as a postdoctoral research associate from 1964-5 and again in 1967. He returned to Illinois and joined the faculty in 1983.

Leggett has achieved many honors, including being named a fellow of the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics. He is an honorary fellow of the British Institute of Physics. He also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Leggett has been awarded the Maxwell Medal and Prize and the Simon Memorial Prize of the British Institute of Physics, and he is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Based in Israel, the Wolf Foundation was established in 1976 by the late Ricardo Wolf, a German-born diplomat and philanthropist who immigrated to Cuba and served as Cuban ambassador to Israel, where he died in 1981. Wolf prizes are awarded annually in recognition of outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, agriculture and the arts. Each prize consists of a $100,000 honorarium.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav will present the awards in Jerusalem on May 11.