A Waterloo physicist whose theoretical research has resulted in a better understanding of the thinnest - yet one of the strongest materials known to man - has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Dmitry Abanin is the recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship – an award given annually to promising scientists, mathematicians and economists from Canada and the United States who are at an early stage in their careers.

Dmitry Abanin“For a society to really grow, it needs people who are pushing the boundaries of what’s known to make new progress,” said Abanin. “That’s why this kind of fellowship is important – it supports people who are probing the edges of knowledge. It will help me, my group, and our research go farther.”

Theories enrich understanding of the world

Abanin is a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute. He also holds an adjunct professorship in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and is an Associate Faculty member of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.

Abanin has been recognized for his ground-breaking theoretical research in condensed matter physics of unique materials, including graphene. Graphene, a single layer of carbon, is a newer crystalline material that is no thicker than a single atom but stronger than a layer of steel at the same thickness.

Condensed matter physics is the branch of physics that studies systems of very large numbers of particles in a condensed state, like solids or liquids.

Abanin’s work has resulted in a number of significant theories related to graphene. Several of his theoretical predictions have been confirmed experimentally, a remarkable achievement for a physicist so early in his career. Graphene has important applications for medicine, integrated circuits, solar cells and superconductors.  

“Many of these ideas will enrich our understanding of the world, and some will really click and lead to something big,” said Abanin.

Worked with Nobel Prize winners

He joined Perimeter in 2013 following postdoctoral research positions at Harvard and Princeton universities. He has worked alongside Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov whose ground-breaking research on graphene was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Other avenues of Abanin’s research will contribute to a greater understanding of how nature works at the quantum scale, and might also lead to quantum information applications.

For more than a half-century, the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded annually to the rising stars of science in Canada and the United States, helping establish them as the next generation of scientific leaders in areas spanning physics, chemistry, biology, and related disciplines. Recipients receive $50,000 over the next two years to pursue any line of research they choose.