Car studied physics and attained a doctorate in 1971 in nuclear technology at the Politecnico di Milano. He was a postdoc at the University of Milan from 1973 to 1974, an assistant at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) from 1977 to 1981, employed at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center of IBM from 1981 to 1983, associate professor for physics at SISSA in Trieste (in 1990/91 as full professor) from 1984 to 1990, and professor for physics at the University of Geneva (and director of the IRRMA of EPFL) from 1991 to 1999.
In 1999 he went to Princeton University where he became the Ralph W. Dornte Professor in Chemistry with a simultaneous appointment with the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. He is a professor in the Theory Department, of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society.
He is a member of the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation.
In 2009 he shared the Dirac Medal with Michele Parrinello for their development of the ab initio molecular dynamics simulation method. The method combines the quantum mechanical density functional theory for calculation of electronic structure with methods of molecular dynamics for the simulation of classical ("Newtonian") atomic movements. They call their procedure ab initio molecular dynamics ; it is also well known as the Car-Parrinello method. The procedure was jointly developed by both men in 1985, when they were in Trieste. Their procedure has found various applications in solid-state physics, biochemistry, chemical physics, and materials science.
In 1990 he received the Hewlett-Packard prize of the European Physical Society, in 1995 the Rahman Prize of the American Physical Society, where he is a Fellow, and in 2009 with Parinello the Sidney Fernbach Award of the IEEE. In 2008, he received the Humboldt Foundation Research Award for senior US scientists. In 2007, a birthday symposium was held at ICTP. He received the Aneesur Rahman prize in computational physics. The Aneesur Rahman Prize is the highest honor given by the American Physical Society for work in computational physics.
- "Roberto Car". Princeton University. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "Theory Department of the FHI - Theory Department - Prof. Dr. Roberto Car". Fhi-berlin.mpg.de. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "About Us: Who We Are". Issnaf.org. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Unified Approach for Molecular Dynamics and Density Functional Theory , Physical Review Letters, Vol.55, 1985, pp.2471-4, Abstract
- "Roberto Car | Princeton University | ResearchCrossroads Profile". Researchcrossroads.org. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "Car and Parrinello Named 2009 Fernbach Winners". Computer.org. 2009-10-15. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "Roberto Car, Michele Parrinello win Computer Society's Fernbach Award". Nanowerk.com. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "Roberto Car 60th Birthday Symposium", accessdate July 31, 2010
- National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected, News from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2016, retrieved 2016-05-14.
- "Perspective on: Imagination and optimism in scientific discovery", News at Princeton, Kitta MacPherson, June 28, 2010
- Website of Roberto Car at Princeton University
- Career summary with selected publications, pdf data
- Portrait of him and Parrinello at ICTP
- Dirac Medal
- Portrait on the occasion of the Sidney Fernbach Award