Published October 27, 2016
UB physicist Igor Zutic has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), one of the world’s most prominent organizations focused on diffusing the knowledge of physics.
The APS, publisher of some of the top scientific journals in physics, represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers for exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise through research, applications of physics, leadership, service and education.
Zutic, a professor in the Department of Physics, was selected as a fellow for “pioneering contributions to the theory of spin-dependent transport, magnetism in semiconductor nanostructures and novel spintronic devices.”
The recognition is an acknowledgement of Zutic’s work to advance the field of spintronics, which involves using a characteristic of an electron called “spin” to develop new technologies and gadgets.
An electron’s spin is akin to a tiny compass needle that can point “up” or “down.” An imbalance between the number of “up” and “down” spins causes a material to be a permanent magnet. Such asymmetry is also responsible for the operation of spintronic devices.
A theoretical physicist, Zutic focuses on developing the framework for physicists to predict and describe phenomenon related to spin. He also has proposed new spin-based devices — ranging from spin lasers and spin transistors to fault-tolerant quantum computers — that would leverage magnetism to perform tasks that would be inefficient or impossible with conventional electronics.
In addition to conducting research, Zutic has mentored some of the most distinguished students in UB’s physics department. These include a 2014 Barry Goldwater Scholar, as well as a UB alumnus who achieved two extraordinary feats for an undergraduate-level scholar: obtaining the maximum score on the physics subject test of the Graduate Record Examination and publishing an article in Physical Review Letters, the prominent flagship journal of the APS. Both students were recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.
Zutic joined the UB faculty in 2005 after conducting research at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1998 and his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Zagreb in Croatia in 1992.