Paul Steinhardt

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Paul J. Steinhardt
Paul J. Steinhardt conference room.png
Albert Einstein Professor in Science
Director of the Center for Theoretical Science
Princeton University
Born December 25, 1952
Washington, D.C.
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Princeton University
University of Pennsylvania
Harvard University
Alma mater Caltech (B.S.)
Harvard University (M.A.), (Ph.D)
Doctoral advisor Sidney R. Coleman
Other academic advisors Richard P. Feynman
Barry Barish
Richard Alben
Praveen Chaudhari
Known for Cosmic inflation
Cyclic model
Ekpyrotic universe
Hyperuniform disordered solids
Notable awards Guggenheim Fellowship (1994)
Dirac Medal, ICTP (2002)
Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (2010)
John Scott Award (2012)
Simons Fellow (2012)
Radcliffe Fellow, Harvard (2012)
Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award (2014)

Paul Joseph Steinhardt (born December 25, 1952) is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is currently the Albert Einstein Professor in Science[1] at Princeton University.

Steinhardt's research has spanned problems in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology, condensed matter physics, photonics and geoscience. He is well known as one of the architects of inflationary cosmology and the leading competing alternative known as the cyclic theory of the Universe. He is also one of the originators of the concept of quasicrystals, a state of matter with rotational symmetries once thought to be impossible for solids. He initiated and led a successful effort to discover the first natural quasicrystal, icosahedrite, and has been an innovator in using quasicrystals and other novel patterns to design photonic materials.

In addition, Steinhardt co-founded and is the current Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science.[2]

Academic work[edit]

Steinhardt is best known for his work in theoretical cosmology, where he helped develop the theory of cosmic inflation, which attempts to explain the homogeneity and geometry of the Universe and the origin of the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies and large-scale structure.[3] He introduced the concept of quintessence, a time-varying form of dark energy to explain the current accelerating expansion of the Universe. His recent work has been on brane cosmology, especially the ekpyrotic and cyclic models. The cyclic theory of the Universe is a radical alternative to big bang/inflationary cosmology in which the evolution of the Universe is periodic and the key events shaping the large scale structure of the Universe occur before the big bang.[4]

Steinhardt also works in condensed matter physics, where he coined the name quasicrystal, a novel phase of matter which has symmetries forbidden to ordinary periodic crystals. He has made numerous contributions to understanding their mathematical and physical properties.[5] Recently, he has helped develop a photonic quasicrystal (the quasicrystal analogue of a photonic crystal) for efficiently trapping and manipulating light in selected wavebands.

Honors and awards[edit]

Steinhardt was elected as a Fellow in the American Physical Society in 1986 in recognition of his important contributions to cosmology and to the theoretical understanding of quasicrystals.[6] He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998,[7] for distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. In 2002, he was honored for his pivotal role as one of the original architects of the inflationary model of the Universe when he shared the prestigious P.A.M. Dirac Medal from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics with Alan Guth of MIT and Andrei Linde of Stanford. In 2010, Steinhardt received the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize of the American Physical Society for his pioneering contributions to the theory of quasicrystals, including the prediction of their diffraction pattern. In 2012, he received the John Scott Award for his work on quasicrystals, including the co-discovery of the first natural quasicrystal called icosahedrite during a successful geological expedition to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia.[8] In 2012, Steinhardt was named Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics;[9] Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard Fellow;[10] and was also invited to pursue his research at Caltech as a Moore Distinguished Scholar. In 2014, he received the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, which is the highest honor the Institute bestows upon its alumni.[11] In 2014, the International Mineralogical Association accepted a new mineral from the Khatyrka meteorite into the official catalogue of natural minerals,[12] and named it "steinhardtite" in his honor.[13]




  1. U.S. Patent 8,064,127 – Quasicrystalline Photonic Heterostructures and Uses Thereof
  2. Quasicrystalline Structures and Uses Thereof, US Patent No. 8243362 B1[14]
  3. Quasicrystalline Structures and Uses Thereof, US Patent No. 8508838 B2[15]
  4. Quasicrystalline Structures and Uses Thereof, US Patent No.TBA B3
  5. Assembly of Quasicrystalline Photonic Heterostructures, US Patent No. 7981774[16]
  6. Assembly of Quasicrystalline Photonic Heterostructures, US Patent No. 8394708[17]
  7. Interference Using Quasiperiodic Patterns, US Patent No. 5379118[18]
  8. More Methods and Apparatus for Eliminating Moire' Interference Using Quasiperiodic Patterns, US Patent No. 5179448[19]
  9. Methods and Apparatus for Eliminating Moire' Interference Using Quasiperiodic Patterns, US Patent No. 4984726


  1. Narrow-band frequency splitters, photonic sensors, and cavities having pre-selected cavity modes
  2. Non-crystalline Materials having complete photonic, electronic, or phononic band gaps
  3. Disordered Multi-hyperuniform pixel array for image sensors

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Member Election Citation, National Academy of Sciences
  4. ^ Brian Greene, Walter Isaacson, and Paul Steinhardt (2007) Einstein: An EDGE Symposium
  5. ^ 2010 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize recipient biography
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