Paul J. Steinhardt

Princeton University


Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

As a theoretical physicist, my research has explored issues in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology, and condensed-matter physics. A principal focus has been developing and testing the inflationary model of the Universe. My work has ranged from developing viable inflationary models, such as "new inflation" and "extended inflation," to determining how inflation produces perturbations in the energy density that may lead to the formation of large-scale structure, to studying the links between inflationary theory and fundamental physics. My current interest is in identifying new observational tests of the inflationary scenario and new candidates for the "missing energy" that must be present if the Universe has critical density. My research in condensed-matter physics introduced the concept of quasicrystals, a new class of solids with quasiperiodic atomic order that exhibit crystallographically forbidden symmetries, such as fivefold symmetry in the plane or icosahedral symmetry in three dimensions. My current research in this area is to develop models to explain the reasons why quasicrystals form, their atomic structure, and their novel physical properties.

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