Professor Shivaji Sondhi

Eminent theoretical physicist joins Oxford

Quantum materials
Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics

The Department of Physics is delighted to confirm the appointment of Professor Shivaji Sondhi to the University’s Wykeham Professorship of Physics, a Leverhulme International Professorship, and the Tencent Chair of Theoretical Physics.

At the frontier of condensed matter physics

‘Professor Sondhi is a theoretical physicist working at the frontier of condensed matter physics; he has an exceptional record of achievement and we are thrilled that he is joining us,’ welcomes Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of Department. ‘Shivaji’s research record is remarkable, with four field-changing discoveries so far: theoretical ideas that drove the first experimental observation of skyrmions (1993), the identification of microscopic models with spin liquid phases (2001), the prediction of magnetic monopoles in spin ice (2008) and the proposal that time crystals emerge in periodically driven systems (2016). The earlier three are now established as standard ideas in the field, taught in graduate courses around the world, while the most recent one is currently the subject of dedicated international conferences. These achievements derive from an extraordinarily deep level of scholarship and from close collaborations with the senior and junior colleagues around him.’

New discoveries in fundamental science

Professor Sondhi joins a distinguished group of researchers, including those in the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, and experimentalists such as Professor Séamus Davis and others whose research takes place in the new, state-of-the-art laboratories in the Beecroft Building. Professor Sondhi’s appointment will open new areas of discovery in fundamental science for Oxford, and is envisaged to have a major impact on UK research excellence and the vibrancy of physics as a discipline in the UK.

Professor Sondhi joins the University of Oxford from Princeton University where he has been a professor of physics since 1995. Sondhi’s work has been recognised by many awards and prizes, including the European Physical Society Condensed Matter Division Europhysics Prize in 2012, Europe’s most prestigious prize in condensed matter physics.

Eminent physicists

The Wykeham Chair is a Statutory Professorship associated with New College. It is named after William of Wykeham who founded New College in 1379. There are three Wykeham Professorships at Oxford: in Physics, Philosophy and Ancient History. William of Wykeham (born around 1320, died September 1404) was Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England. He also founded Winchester College in 1382, and was the clerk of works when much of Windsor Castle was built. The Wykeham Chair in Physics has been held by many eminent physicists including Willis Lamb who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955 for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum, and Sir Rudolf Peierls, famous for his seminal contributions to nuclear physics and condensed matter physics.