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Birgeneau wins award in physics

Dean of Science Robert J. Birgeneau has been awarded the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Magnetism Award for 1997.

Dean Birgeneau, a professor of physics at MIT since 1975 and dean of science since 1991, is a leader in the field of condensed-matter physics. He was cited in the IUPAP award for his "achievements in the field of magnetism and in particular, for the identification of model magnetic systems and the experimental elucidation of their behavior by means of scattering techniques."

Dean Birgeneau's principal research interest has been the phase-transition behavior of novel states of matter. Before coming to MIT, he worked at Bell Laboratories from 1968-74. He has also served as a senior guest scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he devised a program in scattering that used a beam of neutrons from the reactor at Brookhaven to probe the microscopic structure of matter. More recently, also at Brookhaven, Dean Birgeneau and his students developed the field of synchrotron magnetic X-ray scattering for the study of magnetic phase changes.

In 1987, Dean Birgeneau and three Brookhaven colleagues made pioneering discoveries about the physics underlying high-temperature superconductivity, inspiring optimism for achieving the same results at much higher temperatures. Since then, understanding the basic microscopic physics of high-temperature superconductors has been his "most difficult physics problem," he said.

Dean Birgeneau commented, "Of course, I am delighted by this recognition by IUPAP of our research efforts on magnetic phase transitions here at MIT. I'm especially grateful to Marc Kastner and two former graduate students, John Hill and Martin Greven, who have each contributed in a fundamental way to our collaborative work over the past several years. Frankly, it's also nice that I have to go to the Great Barrier Reef to receive the award."

The IUPAP Magnestism Award will be presented at the International Conference on Magnetism in Cairns, Australia, in July.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 1997.

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