Thouless, David James

Thouless, David James, 1934–2019, British physicist, b. Bearsden, Scotland, Ph.D. Cornell, 1958. He was a professor at the Univ. of Birmingham, England (1965–78), Yale (1979–80), and the Univ. of Washington, Seattle (1980–2003, subsequently emeritus). Thouless shared the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics with Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz for their theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter. Their work used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual material properties. In the 1970s, Thouless and Kosterlitz demonstrated the existence of superconductivity and suprafluidity in extremely thin layers, invalidating the then-current belief that such properties were not possible in nearly two-dimensional materials and leading to a new understanding of phase transitions and the role played by quantum effects and topological defects. Thouless also used topological concepts to provide an understanding of the quantum Hall effect, which had been discovered by Klaus von Klitzing.

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