Research center named for Nobel physicist
Construction work began yesterday on a research center at the Tsung-Dao Lee Institute in Zhangjiang Science City, the Pudong New Area.
The new building, named after a Chinese-American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1957, will have three laboratories devoted to dark matter and the neutrino, astrophysics, and topological superconductor quantum computing.
The divisions of the institute broadly reflect Lee’s own interests: astronomy, high energy physics and quantum physics, according to director of the institute, MIT professor Frank Wilczek, who won Nobel for physics himself in 2004.
“We will tackle many great questions, such as how did the universe begin, and how did stars and galaxies form? What kinds of planets and moons exist outside of our solar system, and do they harbor life? What is dark matter? How can we use quantum theory to predict the properties of matter in detail, so that we can predict new phases of matter and design materials with valuable properties? How can we use quantum theory to construct enhanced communications networks and more powerful computers?” Wilczek said at the ground breaking ceremony.
One of the world’s great theoretical physicists, Lee had a distinguished career in both China and the United States, sharing the Nobel with another Chinese physicist Chen-Ning Yang. Lee made great efforts to strengthen collaboration between the Chinese and American physics communities.
The TDLI was set up following a proposal Lee submitted to the Chinese government in 2014 to create a research institute similar to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
In 2016, a decision was made to set up a national research institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Lee’s name.
“One of our main goals at TDLI will be to help young talent become mature, independent researchers. We will be following in TD’s footsteps,” said Wilczek.
“Today, lots of productive work waits to be done in physics, both to advance human knowledge and for practical purposes. We have great questions and great opportunities. The nations of the world have not yet fully risen to the challenge. Shanghai and China, with their rich cultural legacy and their rapidly increasing wealth and confidence, can make a great contribution.”