Charles L. Kane

University of Pennsylvania

Primary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2014)


Charles Kane is the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Natural Sciences and Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1963 and grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1985 with bachelors degree in physics and received a PhD in physics from MIT in 1989. The following two years were spent as a post doctoral research associate at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. He has been on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania since 1991. Kane is a theoretical condensed matter physicist who is known for his work characterizing quantum electronic states of matter. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and his work on topological insulators has been recognized by several awards, including the Oliver Buckley Prize (2012), the P.A.M. Dirac Medal (2012), the Physics Frontiers Prize (2013) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal (2015).

Research Interests

Charles Kane's research is focused on the quantum electronic properties of materials and electronic devices. Of interest is understanding the collective behavior of electrons in materials, which is important both for applications in electronics technology as well as for our understanding of the fundamental emergent behavior that matter can exhibit. Kane is known for his theoretical work characterizing Luttinger liquids, the quantum Hall effect and carbon nanotubes. His recent work has focused on topological electronic phases. He predicted the existence of a new class of materials known as topological insulators, which are electrical insulators on their interior but conduct electricity in a very special way on their surface. The special properties of these surface states identify a novel kind of topological order and could be useful for applications ranging from low power electronics to creating a topological quantum computer. The combination of the theoretical richness of topological insulators and related materials and their experimental availability, has initiated a new field in condensed matter physics. The key questions include: What are the possible fundamental electronic phases? How can they be realized in realistic materials or devices? and How can their properties be harnessed for practical applications?

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