Faculty Bulletin Board

Engineering professor awarded international honor for seminal discovery in magnetism

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Kang Wang
Joanne Leung/UCLA Engineering

Kang Wang

Kang Wang, a distinguished professor of electrical engineering in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has received the 2018 Magnetism Award and Néel Medal for his discovery of a long-sought-after particle that could lead to the development of a new class of quantum computers.

Established in 1922, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, a non-governmental organization whose mission is to advance physics to address challenges facing humanity, selected Wang for the award for “the discovery of chiral Majorana fermions and outstanding contributions to topological spintronics.”

The Majorana fermion is a particle first proposed in 1937 by Italian theoretical physicist Ettore Majorana. It is its own anti-particle — carrying zero electrical charge — and is viewed as the best candidate to carry a quantum bit, or qubit, the unit of data that would be the foundation of topological quantum computers. Wang led the research that confirmed the long sought-after particle exists. The study was published in Science in 2017.

He has also made pioneering contributions in the field of spintronics, which uses the spin and orbital properties of electrons, rather than their charge, to carry information and energy.

Wang will share the 2018 award with Samuel Bader of Argonne National Laboratory; and Ramamoorthy Ramesh of UC Berkeley, both of whom are being recognized for other contributions to magnetism.

Wang, who is the Raytheon Company Professor of Electrical Engineering, holds faculty appointments in materials science and engineering, and physics and astronomy in the UCLA College. The award will be presented to him in July at the organization’s 2018 international meeting in San Francisco.

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