Nobel Laureate, Professor David Thouless Dies at Age 84

Nobel Laureate, Professor David Thouless

A Nobel laureate, David James Thouless passed away in Cambridge, the U.K. at the age of 84 on 6th April 2019.

He was a renowned theoretical physicist, known for his work on the properties of matter involving very thin layers. He was awarded in 2016 with the Nobel prize in Physics.

“It really meant a lot to him that he won the Nobel Prize,” said his daughter, Helen Thouless.

“He really wanted to be part of a team — not necessarily the person leading the pack,” said his daughter. “The University of Washington offered a very collegial, very friendly setting. That’s why they stayed, I think.”

“David Thouless was not only a scholar of the highest caliber, he was a gentleman, a wonderful department citizen and an inspiration to all of his colleagues,” says Blayne Heckel. “He will not be forgotten.”

He spent one year at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher and then returned to the U.K. so he could work with a renowned physicist, Rudolf Peierls.

“We worked well together, since I had the broad ideas and tried to understand the big picture, whereas Mike would find the holes in my arguments and ways to solve the problems I had ignored,” says Thouless.

The Physics Nobel Committee cited their efforts and awarded them with the 2016 physics prize.

He along with 3 postdoctoral researchers in 1982, published a study that utilized the topological methods for the explanation of another 2-dimensional phenomenon known as the quantum Hall effect.

This work has also been cited by the Physics Nobel Committee and is “seen nowadays as the starting point for the discovery of many new topological phenomena, including topological insulators and topologically protected quantum phases,” said Dr. Marcel Den Nijs.

“David Thouless was the cornerstone of the condensed matter theory group in the UW Department of Physics for many years,” said Mr. Den Nijs.