Young researchers from Max Planck Institute and Weizmann Institute of Science win the ARCHES prize for research cooperation and high excellence in science

1. November 2013

The ARCHES prize of this year is awarded to Dr. Binghai Yan from Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids and Dr. Erez Berg from the Weizmann Institute of Science, to recognize and reward their outstanding contributions to research on topological states of matter as well as to strengthen German-Israeli scientific collaboration.

ARCHES will support a collaborative research project on topological superconducting materials conducted by Dr. Yan and Dr. Berg. The search for topological states has been an active field of condensed matter physics in recent years, especially since the celebrated discovery of a family of materials known as “topological insulators”. It has been predicted that analogous phases should exist also in superconducting materials that promise tremendous application potential for quantum computation. In this project, they will undertake a theoretical investigation of materials which are possible candidates for realizing a topological superconducting phases, using a combination of computational and analytical tools. Their results will be useful in designing experiments that will establish the existence of such phases in the near future, and will probe their unusual properties.

This project calls for a close collaboration between a group with experience in realistic first-principle quantum chemistry calculation and material physics with a group with a background in many-body physics and in topological properties of matter. The two leading principal investigators and their environments in their home institutions match perfectly for this challenge. Dr. Yan has been working on novel topological insulator materials by first-principles calculations and successfully bridging the gap between analytical models and experiments. Dr. Berg has worked on unconventional superconductivity and topological properties of matter. It is remarkable that he formulated a general criterion for time-reversal invariant topological superconductivity in centrosymmetric systems and its application to the recently discovered superconductor Cu-doped Bi2Se3. The combined expertise in first-principles band structure calculations, topological phases of matter, spin-orbit coupling effects in solids, and unconventional superconductivity makes them ideally suited to pursue the proposed research. This project will encourage the exchange of knowledge between our institutions, and contribute to the scientific ties between the physics communities in Germany and Israel.

The ARCHES prize is a German-Israeli research award funded by the Federal German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and administered by the Minerva Foundation. The award is presented annually to German-Israeli research teams headed by two highly-qualified and talented young scientists who are already internationally recognized in their field. The principal criteria to be used as a basis of selection for the award are scientific excellence of the candidates and the quality of the proposed research project.

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