Joseph H. Thywissen



  • Fellow
  • Quantum Materials


  • University of Toronto
Department of Physics


  • Canada


PhD, Harvard University
BSc, Harvey Mudd College


Joseph Thywissen’s work focuses on ultra-cold alkali gases, including both fermionic and bosonic species.

Placed in optical lattices, cold atoms realize physical analogs of idealized models for strongly correlated electron systems. By experimentally studying these iconic condensed matter systems, Thywissen and his colleagues hope to learn whether the Hubbard model can explain high-temperature superconducting cuprates, and which models of magnetism give rise to spin liquids. In short, cold atoms may provide a kind of ‘halfway house’ between theories of quantum matter and experimental measurements of complex materials.

In Toronto, Thywissen and his colleagues have started down the long road to realizing these goals. They have cooled potassium 40 (a fermion) and rubidum 87 (a boson) to quantum degeneracy, and begun to explore their properties. The group uses microfabricated magnetic traps to accelerate the cooling cycle and thereby reduce the technical demands of an ultra-cold atom experiment. The immediate goals of the experiment are to achieve the low temperatures necessary to observe interesting lattice physics: the Néel temperature is predicted to be approximately 5nK for potassium in a 400nm period lattice!


Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2014

Premier's Research Excellence Award, 2004

John Charles Polanyi Prize in Physics, 2003

Ontario Distinguished Researcher Award, 2003

Canada Research Chair, 2003

Relevant Publications

Luciuk, C. et al. "Observation of quantum-limited spin transport in strongly interacting 2D Fermi gases." Physical Review Letters 118 (2017).

Luciuk, C. et al. "Evidence for universal relations describing a gas with p-wave interactions." Nature Physics 12 (2016): 599–605.

Edge, G.J.A. et al. "Imaging and addressing of individual fermionic atoms in an optical lattice." arXiv:1510.04744.

Yu, Z. et al. "Universal relations for a Fermi gas close to a p-wave interaction resonance." Phys. Rev. Lett. 115 (2015): 135304.

Trotzky, S. et al. "Observation of the Leggett-Rice effect in a unitary Fermi gas." Phys. Rev. Lett. 114 (2015): 015301.