Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Robert B. Laughlin
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1998
Born: 1 November 1950, Visalia, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations."
Prize share: 1/3
The Hall effect refers to the fact that if an electrical current flows lengthwise through a metal band and a magnetic field is placed against the surface of the band at a right angle, a charge arises diagonally in the band. In interfaces in certain materials a quantum Hall effect occurs. After Horst Störmer and Daniel Tsui discovered that changes in the magnetic field result in changes in Hall conductance that vary in steps that represent fractions of a constant, Robert Laughlin explained the phenomenon in 1983 with the formation of quasiparticles and a kind of quantum fluid.