Igor Herbut Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society

March 01, 2018

The American Physical Society will present SFU Physics Professor Igor Herbut with a fellowship certificate during its annual March Meeting next week. The presentation on March 6th will formally recognize Prof. Herbut’s election last fall as a 2017 Fellow of the American Physical Society. The society elects only a maximum 0.5% of its members annually.

Professor Herbut’s election followed a recommendation from the Division of Condensed Matter Physics, and was based on his outstanding contributions to the theory of Dirac fermions in strongly correlated electron systems, including the prediction of an antiferromagnetic ground state for graphene in a strong magnetic field.

Herbut’s most influential work has involved the study of the interaction effects in graphene, including the concomitant issues of conductivity, disorder, quantum Hall effect, and possible quantum phase transitions. In particular, he argued in the well-cited single-author Physical Review Letter from 2006 that the field theory of interacting graphene has the form of the Gross-Neveu model, and that it describes the direct quantum phase transitions from the semimetal to charge-density wave or spin-density-wave insulators, which define new “fermionic” universality classes. This, and subsequent papers by himself and with his collaborators, motivated new approaches to related problems in field theory, many large-scale numerical simulations on lattice fermions, and the experiments on graphene in the magnetic field. This line of research culminated in a series of quantitative calculations within the last three years and confirmed the predicted Gross-Neveu universality class of the Mott transition in the Hubbard model on honeycomb lattice. Most importantly, an experiment by the MIT group in 2014 confirmed his counterintuitive prediction from 2007: that graphene’s ground state in the magnetic field is a canted antiferromagnet.

The researcher's other well-known contributions include the formulation and elaboration of the QED3 effective field theory of the underdoped cuprates, a study of the critical point in the classical Ginzburg-Landau theory of superconductors, and recently, the elucidation of the semimetal-metal transition in disordered Weyl semimetals.

Professor Herbut has been an invited speaker at numerous high-level conferences, including the Nobel Symposium on Graphene in Stockholm in 2010, Graphene Week at KITP at the University of Santa Barbara in 2009, and the Aspen Winter Conference on Unconventional Order in 2014. Herbut has also authored a textbook on the theory of critical phenomena, which has been widely used in physics graduate education.

The American Physics Society March Meeting is the largest and most prominent Physics conference internationally. More than 10,000 physicists, scientists, and students will attend the 2018 meeting.