The caliber of the graduate students we have had in the Department of Physics at Toronto is perhaps symbolized by the three who have been awarded a Nobel Prize. Below we give a very brief description of these U of T graduates and also give links to their inspiring autobiographies (taken from the Nobel website).
- Walter Kohn. Walter was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in1998. He was cited for his development of the now-famous density functional theory for calculating the electronic structure of atoms, molecules and solids. This method sidesteps the difficult problem of calculating many particle wavefunctions. Prof. Kohn could have easily won the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work. He also has done fundamental studies on interacting Fermi systems ( Fermi liquid theory), properties of metal surfaces and the electronic states of impurities in semiconductors. Prof. Kohn was the founding director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara in 1979, probably the leading world centre for workshops in theoretical physics.
Prof. Kohn received his B.A. (Toronto) in Math and Physics in 1945 and his M.A. (Toronto) in Applied Mathematics.
- Bertram Brockhouse. Bert was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994 for his development of neutron spectroscopy. Working at Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories (AECL) in the 1950's, Dr. Brockhouse did the first experiments probing condensed matter using inelastic scattering of neutrons. He used this powerful method to study phonons in crystals and spin waves in ferromagnets. The group he helped to build at Chalk River continues to do outstanding work using inelastic neutron scattering in a wide variety of materials.
Prof. Brockhouse did his B.A. at UBC, and his M.A. (1948) and Ph.D. (1950) at Toronto.
- Arthur Schawlow (1921-1999). Art was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1981 for his outstanding contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy. His work with Townes led to the development of the laser. Later with Hansch (Munich), Dr. Schawlow developed the idea behind laser cooling of atoms. This method is the key to reaching the very low temperatures needed to Bose-condense trapped atoms (BEC).
Prof. Schawlow did both his undergraduate and graduate studies (Ph.D., 1949) at U of T.