ROBERT J. BIRGENEAU, Professor of Physics, Emeritus

Professor of Physics, Emeritus

EMAIL: robertjb@berkeley.edu

PHONE: (617) 253-4937

OFFICE: 6C-429


Area of Physics:

Condensed Matter Experiment

MIT Career Timeline

  • 1975–1982: Professor of Physics
  • 1982–2000: Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics
  • 1991–2000: Dean of Science
  • 2003–Present: Professor of Physics, Emeritus
  • Other Positions

  • 1983–1986: Associate Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics
  • 1987–1988: Head, Solid State Atomic and Plasma Physics
  • 1988–1991: Head, Department of Physics

Selected Awards and Honors

Research Interests

Professor Robert J. Birgeneau's research is primarily concerned with the phases and phase transition behaviour of novel states of matter. These include one- and two- dimensional magnets, liquid crystals, physisorbed and chemisorbed surface monolayers, clean metal and semi-conductor surfaces, graphite intercalates, highly disordered magnets and most recently, lamellar CuO2 superconductors. He uses both neutron and X-ray scattering techniques to probe these systems. Professor Birgeneau and his collaborators pioneered the use of X-ray synchrotron radiation for high resolution studies of condensed matter. For the pastdecade, he and collaborators have carried out a comprehensive research program aimed at elucidating the microscopic properties of the high Tc superconducting materials.

Biographical Sketch

A Toronto native, Professor Robert J. Birgeneau received his B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Toronto in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale in 1966. He was on the faculty of Yale for one year and then spent one year at Oxford University through the National Research Council of Canada. Professor Birgeneau was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1968 to 1975, then joined MIT as a Professor of Physics. In 1982, he was named the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics. In 1988, he was named Head of the Department and in 1991 was appointed Dean of Science. Professor Birgeneau became the 14th president of the University of Toronto on July 1, 2000, where he served four years. Birgeneau served as the ninth Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley from 2004-2013, where he was known for his promotion of diversity and equity in the academic community, while advancing a vision of “access and excellence.”  Under his leadership, UC Berkeley became the first major university in the United States to provide comprehensive financial aid to undocumented students.

Professor Birgeneau has received many honours for his research. In 1987, he was awarded the O. E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society. In 2000, he received the J. E. Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, given to a physicist who both has made outstanding contributions to physics and also has exceptional talent at explaining physics to diverse audiences. In 2012, he was awarded the Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics of the American Institute of Physics; in 2015, the Institute of Government Studies of the University of California, Berkeley honored him with the Darius and Susan Anderson Distinguished Service Award. Professor Birgeneau is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences and is one of the most cited physicists in the world for his work on the fundamental properties of materials.

Selected Publications

    As of June 2002:

  • Hydrogen-Bonded Silica Gels Dispersed in a Smectic Liquid Crystal: A Novel Random Field System, Phys. Rev. Lett. (submitted), S. Park, R.L. Leheny, R.J. Birgeneau, J.-L. Gallani, C.W. Garland and G.S. Iannacchione.
  • Enhancement of Long Range Magnetic Order by a Magnetic Field in Superconducting La2Cu04+y, Phys. Rev. B. (submitted), B. Khaykovich, Y.S. Lee, S. Wakimoto, K.J. Thomas, R. Erwin, S.-H. Lee, M.A. Kastner and R.J. Birgeneau.
  • Ferroelectric Ordering in the Relaxor Pb(Mg1,3Nb2&03 as Evidenced by Low- Temperature Phonon Anomalies, Phys. Rev. B. (submitted), S. Wakimoto, C. Stock, R.J. Birgeneau, Z.-G. Ye, W. Chen, W.J.L. Buyers, P.M. Gehring and G. Shirane.
  • Top-Seeded Melt-Growth of Yba2SCu30x Crystals for Neutron Diffraction, Journal of Superconductivity (in press), D.C. Peets, Ruixing Liang, C. Stock, W.J.L. Buyers, Z. Tun, L. Taillefer, R. J. Birgeneau, D.A. Bonn, and W. N. Hardy.
  • An X-Ray Scattering Study of the Incommensurate Phase in Mg-doped CuGeOs, Phys. Rev. B. (submitted) R.J. Christianson, Y.J. Wang, S.C. LaMarra, R. J. Birgeneau, V. Kiryukhin, T. Masuda, I. Tsukada, K. Uchinokura, B. Keimer.
  • Anomalous temperature dependence in the photoemission spectral function of cuprates, Phys. Rev. B. C. Kim, F. Ronning, A. Damascelli, D.L. Feng, Z.-X. Shen, B.O. Wells, Y.J. Kim, R. J. Birgeneau, M.A. Kastner, L.L. Miller, H. Eisaki and S. Uchida.

Last updated on October 22, 2015 9:25 AM