2012 Medal Winners | francais

The 2012 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

is awarded to

Gordon W. Semenoff

"I am absolutely delighted to receive a CAP Lifetime Achievement Award. It is an extraordinary honour. My scientific work owes a great deal to my many co-workers, collaborators and students and I consider this award an equal acknowledgement of their talent and hard work." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2012 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics is awarded to Gordon W. Semenoff, University of British Columbia, in recognition of for his seminal contributions to quantum field theory, statistical mechanics and condensed matter physics. announcement

Gordon Semenoff is a theoretical physicist with a long record of generating important ideas. He is internationally recognized for his 1984 pioneering work on the substance which became known as graphene. His highly cited paper, predating the fabrication of the material by 20 years, demonstrated that graphene electrons obey a Dirac equation, proposed a mechanism for giving the electron a mass, sometimes called “Semenoff mass” and applied index theorems to study the electron spectrum. These ideas were important for understanding graphene and its remarkable electronic properties once it was made in the lab. The later experimental discovery was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize.

He is well known for contributions to quantum field theory, in particular for using mathematical index theorems to understand fractional charges and the discovery of the parity anomaly of odd-dimensional gauge theories. These ideas have had significant influence over the years and have recently come to the forefront in studies of topological insulators. His pioneering work on the real-time formulation of relativistic quantum field theories at non-zero temperature and density, including invention of the “Kobes-Semenoff rules”, are considered cornerstones of that subject.

He has made important contributions to string theory. His computation of the Wilson loop in N = 4 Yang Mills theory is considered a classic and an important test of a duality between gauge fields and strings. His pioneering work in 2002 on string loop corrections to plane wave strings is considered seminal, not just for its results, but as the beginning of the integrability program of supersymmetric gauge theory and string theory which has been widely pursued over the ten years since.

His research has earned him CAP medals in two disparate fields, the CAP/CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics (2000) and the Brockhouse Medal for condensed matter and material physics (2010). nominator citation

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