Biography

Robert Betts Laughlin is a theoretical physicist and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University.

Along with Horst L. Störmer of Columbia University and Daniel C. Tsui of Princeton University, he was awarded a share of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics for their explanation of the fractional quantum Hall effect. His broad research interests span physical science and engineering. He has made contributions to the theory of high-density plasmas, semiconductors, superconductivity, magnetism and quantum criticality.He has also done classified defense work and continues to serve as a scientific consultant at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His current research focuses on high-density nonvolatile computer memory and energy storage.

Laughlin earned a BA in Mathematics from UC Berkeley, and his PhD in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Between 2004 and 2006 he served as the president of KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea.

Laughlin was first to provide a many body wave function, now known as the Laughlin wave function, for the fractional quantum hall effect, which was able to correctly explain the fractionalized charge observed in experiments. This state has since been interpreted to be a Bose-Einstein condensate. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Laughlin has been the recipient of many awards, including the E. O. Lawrence Award for Physics, the Oliver E. Buckley Prize, the National Academy of Sciences award, the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Physics, the Golden Plate from the American Academy of Achievement, a Doctorate of Letters from the University of Maryland, and the Onsager Medal.