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Louis Taillefer wins Kamerlingh Onnes prize for superconductivity research

by CIFAR
Jul 23 / 18
Canadian physicist Louis Taillefer, Director of CIFAR’s Quantum Materials program, will be awarded the 2018 Kamerlingh Onnes prize.

The international prize is awarded every three years for outstanding experiments which illuminate the nature of superconductivity. Superconductivity is a phenomenon where materials have the ability to conduct electricity without any loss of energy under specific conditions. The prize is named after Heike Kamerlingh Onnes who first discovered superconductivity in 1911.

Louis Taillefer par Michel Caron - 19jan2016 - small
(Photo credit: Michel Caron, Université de Sherbrooke)

Taillefer, a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, is being recognized for his “seminal magneto-transport studies of heavy-fermion and cuprate superconductors.” He will share the prize with Yuji Matsuda of Kyoto University.

Taillefer is renowned for several contributions to the field using a number of powerful experimental techniques. In 2007, his team, which included several CIFAR members, had their breakthrough observation of “quantum oscillations” in a copper-oxide superconductor. Quantum oscillations are the clearest signature of electrons in a metal and the discovery caused a paradigm shift in how scientists view electron behaviour in these materials. In 2016, the same team of CIFAR members identified a key signature of the quantum phase transition that underpins why copper oxides are the strongest known superconductors (see article in Quanta Magazine).

These fundamental insights from Taillefer and his colleagues advance our understanding of what can make superconductors more robust, with the ultimate goal of reaching room-temperature superconductivity – an event that would spark a major technological revolution.

Taillefer has received numerous awards and honours for his contributions to science. He was awarded the Killam Prize in 2012 and the Simon Memorial Prize in 2017, a prestigious international award in low-temperature physics, for which he is the first Canadian recipient.

Since 1998, Taillefer has led CIFAR’s Quantum Materials program, a collaborative network bringing together 60 researchers from Canada, China, Europe, Japan and the U.S., to explore and advance the quantum frontiers of materials science.

The Kammerlingh Onnes Prize was established in 2000 by the organizers of the International Conference on the Materials and Mechanisms of Superconductivity. The 7500 € prize is sponsored by Elsevier, Publisher of Physica C - Superconductivity and its Applications.

Taillefer and Matsuda will be honoured on Aug. 21, 2018 during the 12th International Conference on Materials and Mechanisms of Superconductivity in Beijing, China.