Shoucheng Zhang, Physics Frontiers Prize Laureate, Passes Away

December 1 brought the sad news of the passing of Shoucheng Zhang at 55.

In 2013 Zhang won the Physics Frontiers Prize, an early category of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. He was a pioneering figure in the discovery and development of topological insulators, a phenomenon in condensed matter physics involving substances whose quantum properties make them insulators in their interior but conductors at their surface. This is one of the most important and exciting fields today, with many potential applications in technology and connections to deep questions in fundamental physics. Zhang’s work, both theoretical and experimental, was foundational to it.

Charles Kane, who shared the 2019 Breakthrough Prize for his work on topological insulators, told Nature, "He had an uncanny ability to join profound theoretical beauty with real-world materials and experiments. That, to me, is what is best about theoretical physics.”

The Breakthrough Prize sends deep condolences to the family of Zhang, and to his many friends and colleagues around the world.