Laughlin, Robert Betts

Laughlin, Robert Betts, 1950–, American physicist, b. Visalia, Calif., Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979. Laughlin was a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1981 to 2004, and has been a professor at Stanford since 1989. Laughlin was co-recipient, with Horst Störmer and Daniel Tsui, of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics. Störmer and Tsui had discovered that electrons acting together in strong magnetic fields can form new types of quasiparticles that have just a fraction of the electrical charge an electron is supposed to have. In 1983, Laughlin provided the theory underpinning observations made in the lab by Störmer and Tsui a year earlier, explaining that the electrons condense to form a kind of quantum fluid. The phenomenon is known as the fractional quantum Hall effect. He has written A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (2005) and The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind (2008).

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