Physicist N. Peter Armitage has received one of seven 2023 Brown Investigator Awards from the Brown Science Foundation. Announced May 1, the award recognizes mid-career, curiosity-driven basic research in chemistry and physics.
Armitage, professor in the William H. Miller III Department of Physics and Astronomy, researches the fundamental aspects of quantum materials. His lab focuses on material systems that exhibit coherent quantum effects at low temperatures, including superconductors and quantum magnetism. The goal is to understand how large ensembles of strongly interacting but fundamentally simple particles like electrons in solids act collectively to exhibit complex emergent quantum phenomena.
Armitage, who has been at Hopkins since 2006, will receive $2 million over the next five years. "Peter has been a world leader in developing and applying terahertz spectroscopy to study materials," said Robert Leheny, professor and department chair. "I look forward to seeing the next generation of experiments that will come out of his lab using the new tools of quantum mechanically entangled photons developed thanks to the Brown Science Foundation grant. They will provide a completely unique measurement approach to probe otherwise hidden quantum mechanical effects in solids."
Armitage will use the award to develop new kinds of spectroscopy that exploit the quantum mechanical entanglement of light. Quantum mechanical entanglement is an essential property of quantum mechanics, in which the quantum state of one particle cannot be described independently of another, although they may be separated in space. The 2022 Nobel Prize in physics was given for experiments demonstrating this quantum entanglement.
Scientists believe many materials of central interest in modern physics, such as superconductors and magnets, have properties related to this entanglement, but essentially no tools exist to measure it. Armitage's research is aimed at developing tools for preparing and measuring entangled THz photons, and then using them to probe the entanglement inherent to electrons in solids.
"This award is going to high risk, high reward research, and it comes at the perfect time," said Armitage, who also chairs the Krieger School's Faculty Senate. "I am at the point of my career where I can take some risks. The Brown foundation is giving me this amazing opportunity to develop next-next generation probes of the fundamental physical nature of our world. I can't wait to get started."
"The scientists receiving the 2023 Brown Investigator Award are path-breaking researchers who have developed innovative approaches to address fundamental questions in the physical sciences," said France Córdova, president of Science Philanthropy Alliance. "I know I speak for the foundation's eponymous founder when I say we can't wait to see the discoveries they will make and how their careers will evolve."