J. Michael Kosterlitz


J. Michael Kosterlitz

© Nobel Media AB. Photo: A. Mahmoud

J. Michael Kosterlitz
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016

Born: 22 June 1943, Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Affiliation at the time of the award: Brown University, Providence, RI, USA

Prize motivation: "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter."

Prize share: 1/4


Michael Kosterlitz was born into a family of Jewish immigrants in Aberdeen, Scotland. His father was a biochemist. Michael Kosterlitz studied at Cambridge University and received a PhD at Oxford University in 1969. Thereafter he carried out some of his Nobel Prize awarded work with David Thouless at the University of Birmingham. In 1982, he became a professor at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Michael Kosterlitz is married with three children.


Matter occurs in different phases, for example as a gas, liquid or solid. At very low temperatures unusual phases may occur, for example superconductivity, when electric current flows without resistance, and superfluidity, when a fluid flows without resistance. To describe these phases and phase transitions Michael Kosterlitz used the concepts of topology, a branch of mathematics. For example, in the early 1970s he and David Thouless described phase transitions in thin layers at low temperatures.

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MLA style: J. Michael Kosterlitz – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Mon. 27 Sep 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2016/kosterlitz/facts/>

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