Lancaster physicist wins 2023 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize

Dr Samuli Autti
Dr Samuli Autti

Dr Samuli Autti from Lancaster University has been awarded the 2023 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize by Oxford Instruments Nanoscience.

The prize of €8,000 plus a certificate and trophy is awarded yearly to a young scientist conducting excellent research in the fields of either low temperatures or high magnetic fields in Europe.

Dr Autti said: “I am grateful and honoured to receive this prize. However, I would like to point out that experimental physics is teamwork, and much credit goes to the numerous brilliant people I am collaborating with and have been instructed by in the past.”

The Award recognises Dr Autti’s work on macroscopic quantum systems at ultra-low temperatures, leading the way to understanding exotic topological defects, time crystals and their interactions, the decay of quantum turbulence, and the microstructure of unconventional superfluids.

Dr Autti’s research has made significant contributions to the field through experiments conducted at ultra-low temperatures using magnetic cooldown techniques, particularly in the study of superfluid 3He. His work has led to seminal discoveries such as the observation of half-quantum vortices, which were theoretically proposed in 1976 and then discovered by Autti in 2016, and his observation of the Kelvin-wave cascade alongside his colleagues in 2022. This research sheds light on energy conservation in quantum turbulence, revealing a microscopic decay process that had remained elusive for decades.

Matt Martin, Managing Director at Oxford Instruments NanoScience said: “Dr Autti is a very deserving winner of this year's prize and his work is incredibly exciting. It is inspiring to see such innovative work produced in low-temperature physics which could make a genuine difference in the field of quantum technology.”

The objective of the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize is to promote and recognise the novel work of young scientists working in the fields of low temperatures and/or high magnetic fields in Europe.

After receiving his PhD in 2017 from Aalto University, Finland, Dr Autti came to Lancaster with a highly-competitive Wihuri Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, awarded via the Council of Finnish Foundations. Currently he holds a prestigious 5-year EPSRC Open Fellowship, facilitating his work that focuses on the interfaces between classical and quantum physics.

He has also published four first-author Physical Review letters and two first-author Nature Communications on research covering quantum time crystals and bound fermions in the zero-temperature limit. Beyond his academic research, as a member of the Young Academy, Dr Autti also regularly co-writes policy statements on science, education and industrial legislation for the Finnish government.

The 2023 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize selection committee is chaired by Professor George Pickett, Lancaster University and includes Professor Rolf Haug, Universität Hannover, Professor Vladimir Dmitriev, P L Kapitza Institute, Moscow, Professor Dominik Zumbühl, University of Basel and Dr Silviano De Francheshi, Institute for Nanosciences and Cryogenics, Grenoble.

The prize is named after Professor Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998), who is known for his distinguished work in ultra-low temperature physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University.

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