"A scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.” This quote by Nobel laureate Ernest Rutherford could be applied to the recent achievements of Libor Šmejkal. He was selected from hundreds of nominated scientists to be awarded the Breakthrough Scientific Discovery of the Year 2023 title in the Falling Walls competition for his theoretical work on altermagnetism and non-dissipative nanoelectronics. He was able to explain his discoveries to the general public by comparing a new form of magnetism to the dance of swans. His scientific career illustrates the importance of the role of teachers and mentors and symbolises a commitment to discovery and contribution to scientific knowledge.
In an article published in Nature an international team of scientists breaks down the traditional idea of dividing magnetism into two branches – the ferromagnetic one, known for several millennia, and the antiferromagnetic, discovered about a century ago. Researchers have now succeeded in directly experimentally demonstrating a third altermagnetic branch theoretically predicted by researchers in Prague and Mainz several years ago.
Libor Šmejkal from the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences has won the second place in the “Best Dissertation Thesis” category in this year’s Werner von Siemens Award. Libor won the award for the thesis entitled “Topology band theory of relativistic spintronics in antiferromagnets” supervised by professor Tomáš Jungwirth.
Young Czech physicist breaks with conventional wisdom inherited from George Ohm, Edwin Hall and Louis Néel
In a paper published in Science Advances, Libor Šmejkal with his colleagues from the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague reports the discovery of a Hall effect in an antiferromagnet. It is another extraordinary work by an exceptional Czech talent who as a fresh PhD graduate already enjoys the reputation of an internationally leading figure in his field.