Roberto Car is a theoretical physicist interested in condensed matter and chemical physics. He is known for the ab-initio molecular dynamics method that he introduced with Michele Parrinello, for novel electronic structure approaches, and for simulation studies of liquids and solids. Car was born in Italy and graduated from the Technical University of Milan in 1971. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Milan, the EPFL (Switzerland) and the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, before joining the faculty at SISSA (Italy). In 1991 he became professor of condensed matter physics at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and director of the IRRMA institute for computational material physics. Since 1999 he is professor of chemistry and physics at Princeton University. For his scientific contributions Car has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 1990 Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize, the 1995 Rahman Prize of the APS, the 2009 Dirac Medal, and the 2016 ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry. Car holds honorary degrees from Italian and Swiss Universities. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Roberto Car's research focuses on the electronic and atomistic structure of material and molecular systems. Car is the inventor, with Michele Parrinello, of the ab-initio molecular dynamics method that initiated a new field of numerical simulations. In this approach atomic trajectories are generated "on the fly" from the quantum-mechanical ground state of the electrons, capturing the interplay of nuclear dynamics and chemical bond evolution. Car used this approach in groundbreaking studies of liquid and amorphous systems and to investigate temperature and pressure induced phase transitions. Recently, he focused at understanding the network of hydrogen bonds in water, its dependence on thermodynamic conditions and its role in solvation processes. He is especially interested on the consequences of nuclear quantum dynamics on the equilibrium molecular structures and on the electronic excitations and spectral properties. Car is also devoting effort to combine ab-initio simulations with coarse-grained models and advanced sampling methodologies to study the slow relaxation processes of the hydrogen bond network that underlie ice nucleation. Two other areas of Car's research include the theory of open quantum systems and new computational schemes for electronic correlation.

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Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences