Canadian Association of Physicists ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES


2004 CAP/DCMMP Brockhouse Medal
(for Outstanding Experimental or Theoretical Contributions to
Condensed Matter and Materials Physics)

will be awarded to


"It is a tremendous honour to receive this award from the CAP and DCMMP, considering the truly outstanding contributions to Condensed Matter and Materials Physics made by its namesake, and by the previous recipients. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues for this recognition, and to the many collaborators, graduate students and post doctoral fellows without whom the work would not have been possible."

Dr.Michael ThewaltThe Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2004 CAP/DCMMP Brockhouse Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics is awarded to Dr. Michael Thewalt, Simon Fraser University for his research of multiexcitons and the optical properties of semiconductors.

Michael Thewalt has had a distinguished history of high quality research in semiconductor materials originating with his study of bound multiexciton complexes undertaken more than two decades ago. Perhaps his most important discovery from this period was his proof of the existence of polyexciton states, predicted more than a decade previously by Wang and Kittel. Over the years, his research group has made a broad assault on the optical properties of semiconductors, such as the photoluminescence from strained SiGe/Si heterostructures and the spectra of isoelectronic bound excitons, to name two. However, Michael is one of those individuals whose impact, as measured by citation rate for example, has increased substantially over time, and his nomination for the Brockhouse Medal is based largely upon his recent work on isotopically pure silicon.

Measuring the fine structure of excitonic states requires high resolution instrumentation not normally available commercially. Michael's achievement in pushing back the frontier of exciton spectroscopy has been based in part through the development of ultrasensitive techniques such as photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy and photoinduced far-infrared exciton absorption spectroscopy. Today, his technical creativity has led to the discovery of exciton transitions with linewidths that are orders of magnitude narrower than previously thought possible. By studying the spectra of isotopically pure silicon, he has shown that many of the long-studied optical properties of this semiconductor were, in fact, limited by inhomogeneous isotope broadening. The remarkable sharpness of some of the exciton transitions will strongly influence our understanding of the fundamental optical properties of semiconductors.

Frequently on the plane to Ottawa, Michael has served on the executive of CAP, including its presidency, and has been a strong advocate for physics in NSERC's reallocation exercises. The physics community very much appreciates his efforts at demonstrating the high quality of Canadian physics during these intense competitions for federal research funds. On the west coast, he has helped establish the Pacific Centre for Advanced Materials and Microstructures, an inter-institutional research group that has received more than eight million dollars in CFI funding alone. Previous awards such as the Gold Medal of the BC Science Council (1987) and the Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of Canada (1994) are recognition of his lengthy record of contributions to condensed matter research.

Michael obtained his undergraduate degree from McMaster University in 1972, followed by two graduate degrees from University of British Columbia. In 1980, he returned from a two-year stint at IBM's T.J. Watson Laboratory to take up a faculty position at Simon Fraser University. Throughout the 1990s, he held an NSERC Industrial Research Chair, and has just been awarded a Killam Fellowship for 2004-6, one of only nine such awards given nationally in all subjects this year.

The Brockhouse medal was introduced for the first time in 1999 and is sponsored jointly by the Division of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (DCMMP) and the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP). It is named in honour of Bertram Brockhouse, whose outstanding contributions to research in condensed matter physics in Canada were recognized by the 1994 Nobel Prize for Physics. The medal is awarded annually. Dr. Thewalt will receive the 2004 Medal during the CAP's awards banquet to be held at the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg on June 15th, 2004.

The Canadian Association of Physicists, founded in 1945, is a professional association representing over 1600 individual physicists and physics students in Canada, the U.S. and overseas, as well as a number of Corporate and Departmental Members. In addition to its learned activities, the CAP also undertakes a number of activities intended to encourage students to pursue a career in physics.

For more information, please contact:

Canadian Association of Physicists
Tel: (613) 562-5614
Fax: (613) 562-5615