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. 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, Kosterlitz 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.

To cite this section
MLA style: J. Michael Kosterlitz – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Sat. 9 Dec 2023. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2016/kosterlitz/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Streams during Nobel Week

Watch the 2023 Nobel Prize lectures, the Nobel Prize Concert, Nobel Week Dialogue, the prize award ceremonies in Oslo and Stockholm and Nobel Peace Prize Forum here at nobelprize.org.
Watch lectures and award ceremonies

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.