J. Michael Kosterlitz

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"


Education and training

PhD. Oxford University 1969

BA. University of Cambridge 1966



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.

"Sharp Interface Limits of Phase-Field Models," K.R. Elder, Martin Grant, N. Provotas and J.M. Kosterlitz, Phys. Rev. E64, 021604 (2001).

 "Phase-field Modeling of Eutectic Growth," F. Drolet, K.R. Elder, M. Grant and J.M. Kosterlitz, Phys. Rev. E61, 6705 (2000).

 "Numerical Study of Spin and Chiral Order in a Two-Dimensional XY Spin Glass," J.M. Kosterlitz and N. Akino, Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 4094 (1999).

 "Charge Glass in Two-Dimensional Arrays of Capacitively Coupled Grains with Random Offset Charges," E. Granato and J.M. Kosterlitz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 3888 (1998).

 "Numerical Study of Order in a Gauge Glass Model," J.M. Kosterlitz and N. Akino, Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 4672 (1998).