The research environment at Caltech, where theorists are encouraged to take a very long view and to collaborate across fields and methodologies, stimulates deep theoretical advances.
Selected Caltech contributions to theoretical physics in the last decade:
- Jason Alicea developed practical methods of generating non-Abelian anyons, both for quantum computing applications and to reveal new fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics.
- Sean Carroll and Mark Wise developed a method to predict the implications of a breaking of rotational invariance during cosmic inflation—the instant after the Big Bang when the universe may have inflated—on the cosmic microwave background anisotropy, in a way that is independent from other theoretical models being used.
- Clifford Cheung discovered the Grassmannian formulation of scattering amplitudes in perturbative N=4 supersymmetric Yang-Mills theory.
- Sergei Gukov provided an analysis of the Chern-Simons theory with complex gauge group and surface operators in four-dimensional gauge theory.
- Anton Kapustin established a microscopic description of gauge theory dualities and their relation to the Langlands Program in mathematics.
- Alexei Kitaev classified topological phases of matter.
- Olexei Motrunich showed that bosons at zero temperature can form an unusual Bose-metal phase in which they are neither condensed nor insulating, but instead produce itinerant metal-like properties.
- Hirosi Ooguri discovered the surprising relation between counting of black-hole microstates and Gromov-Witten invariants.
- Sterl Phinney predicted the electromagnetic signatures of mergers of binary black holes and compact stellar remnants.
- John Preskill developed and analyzed new methods for achieving scalable quantum computing that work effectively against stronger and more general noise than previously known methods.
- Gil Refael established new means to realize and measure Majorana fermions.
- Mark Scheel, Saul Teukolsky, and Kip Thorne built the high-precision simulation-based catalogs of gravitational waveforms from black hole mergers that were used to interpret Advanced LIGO's discoveries of these events.
- John Schwarz developed a new idea for the low-energy description of membranes in M theory.