Prof. Aviad Frydman - Revolutionizing the God Particle

In the past few weeks, you have probably heard the name Prof. Aviad Frydman mentioned in scientific news. Prof. Frydman, of BIU’s Department of Physics and the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, has recently detected the analogue of the "Higgs Boson" particle (The "god" particle) in superconductors, together with a group of international colleges from Germany, India, US and Israel.

The observation of the Higgs mechanism in superconductors is a considered a significant breakthrough because it reveals how a single type of physical process behaves under drastically different energy conditions.  “Exciting the Higgs mode in a particle accelerator requires enormous energy levels,” Frydman says. “The parallel phenomenon in superconductors occurs on a different energy scale entirely – just 1/1000 of a single electronvolt. It is exciting is to see how, even in these highly disparate systems, the same fundamental physics is at work.”

The "Higgs Boson" was the missing link in what is called "the standard theory of elementary particles", which explains the basic building blocks of matter. Developed in the 1960’s, this theory also explained the origin of mass in small particles, with one of its outcomes being the prediction of a new particle called the "Higgs Boson". This particle was observed a few years ago in the huge particle collider CERN in Geneva, in the framework of the largest experiment ever held by mankind.

Obviously, this recent discovery regarding the God Particle is a huge feat, and has generated worldwide interest. But what is less known is that the inspiration for its prediction came from theoretical works in the field of Superconductivity. Frydman explains that the new discovery brings the search for the Higgs boson back to its source.  “Ironically, while the discussion about this ‘missing link’ in the Standard Model was inspired by superconductor theory, the Higgs mode was never actually observed in superconductors because of technical difficulties – difficulties that we’ve managed to overcome.”

Australian-born Frydman joined BIU’s faculty in 1999, and was also Visiting Professor at Yale University. BIU courted Frydman while on his post doc in the University of California.  He says he chose to join Bar-Ilan “both because of the familial atmosphere and because I was given to opportunity to establish a new laboratory in a field that was new to BIU at the time.” Currently, Frydman’s research focuses on mesoscopic and Nano-physics. He studies electric properties of low dimensional systems such as thin films, thin wires and nanoparticles.

As for what motivates and guides him, Frydman tells us that in his professional as well as his personal life, he always looks back to his old role model from his high school days. “The real reason I am a physicist today is my physics high-school teacher, Mr. Reich,” shares Frydman. “He was an old-school type of teacher. He was very strict but really cared about his students, and did his best to inspire them with his love of physics. I don’t think teachers of this kind exist anymore, and in general teaching is very different nowadays. Though there are excellent teachers around, in some sense I feel sorry for students today who can't enjoy a learning experience similar to mine. It just goes to show how important education is and how influential good teachers are."

For more on Prof. Frydman's lab click here.
For more on Prof. Frydman click here.