David J. Thouless

University of Washington


Election Year: 1995
Primary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Emeritus
Photo Credit: Mary Levin, University of Washington

Research Interests

I have worked in a variety of areas in theoretical physics, moving from an initial interest in nuclear structure physics to topics in statistical mechanics, superconductivity, liquid helium, magnetism, electrons in disordered materials, and the quantum Hall effect. My best known work was done more than twenty years ago in collaboration with Michael Kosterlitz, when we explored the possibility of phase transitions in two-dimensional systems being mediated by defects. The discovery that the superfluid transition in helium films did behave in the way that we predicted has led to a great deal of work in diverse fields. My recent work has focused on phenomena in which topological quantum numbers play an important part. I have looked at questions such as why the ratio of current to voltage in a quantum Hall device is so precisely quantized despite the irregularities of the devices and how quantized vortices in superfluids behave.

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