His most important contributions have been in deconfined quantum criticality. In 2018, IIT Kanpur conferred upon him the prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award for his academic excellence.
Prof. Ashvin Vishwanath completed his 5-Year integrated MSc program in Physics from IIT Kanpur in 1996. At a time when it was a “norm to pick an engineering major dictated by one’s entrance exam rank,” he pursued a subject he was extremely passionate about. He believes that IIT Kanpur has a “world class physics program”. He then joined the PhD program at the Princeton University, USA and obtained his degree on high-temperature superconductors under Nobel Laureate F.D.M Haldane in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, he was a Pappalardo Post-doctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2004, he joined the University of California, Berkeley as a faculty before moving to the Harvard University in 2016. In between, from 2012 to 2015, he held a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Canada, and was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in materials science in 2014.
Prof. Vishwanath’s research primarily focuses on understanding how collective properties of matter such as superconductivity and magnetism arise from fundamental physical laws such as quantum mechanics. He is currently working on the study of topological aspects of quantum matter, such as skyrmion crystals in metallic magnets, Weyl semimetals and strongly interacting topological phases. A recurring theme in his research has been duality in which new perspectives are obtained by reformulating a physical problem in terms of topological defects. As a theorist, he has always found it difficult to explain his research to people. In an interview, he said, “Most of my work gets done with pencil and paper, sometimes with a computer but always with a lot of talking with my collaborators.”
Prof. Vishwanath is a recipient of several prestigious awards and fellowships. He is also a fellow of the American Physical Society.