For Women in Science

Annica Black-Schaffer Awarded the Prize "For Women in Science"

Annica Black-Schaffer. Photo: Fredrik Persson.

Annica Black-Schaffer, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in materials theory at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received on March 7 the newly instituted prize “For women in science” by the minister of higher education and research, Helene Hellmark Knutsson.

She was awarded the prize “for outstanding research results within superconductivity and its exciting applications involving quantum computers”.

The prize consists apart from a prize sum of 150 000 SEK of an annual mentor program arranged by the Young Academy of Sweden and is a help in the researcher's continued career planning and in the build-up of a research activity.

The prize means among other things that I may visit a bit longer research conferences, which are up to 3-4 weeks long. There I may meet colleagues and get the opportunity to develop new cooperations and develop my research. In addition the prize in itself is an encouragement for my continued research.

Annica Black-Schaffer's field of research is foremost within superconductivity. Superconductors, which are materials that at low temperatures conduct currents completely without resistance and without radiating heat, have themselves existed for over 100 years and we have today within the research a good idea about how the simplest superconductors work.

What she is examining in her research right now is above all else theories about how a new form of superconductors work, the so called topological superconductors. Here the very structure of the quantum mechanical wave function is fundamentally different than of ordinary superconductors. This new type of superconductor may give rise to a type of particles called Majorana fermions.

Simplified, Majorana fermions may be likened to half electrons, Annica Black-Schaffer explains.

She further explains that what they really have done is to, in a material with Majorana fermions, succeeded with splitting the electron's wave function in two spatially completely separate parts.

Above all we try to understand the theory behind the properties of the topological superconductors, Annica Black-Schaffer says.

In extension the research could also lead to the knowledge to build so called quantum computers. In a quantum computer one may use quantum mechanical states to carry out calculations many times faster than the super computers of today and thereby make for example search engines work much faster.

Facts

The L’Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science-prize is a collaboration between L´Oréal Sweden, the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO and the Young Academy of Sweden, where the last mentioned part stands for the scientific evaluation. The prize has as its purpose to lift promising women early in their research career within natural science (including medicine), technology and mathematics and create role models for young people. This was the first time the prize was awarded in Sweden and in addition to the prize to Annica Black-Schaffer Kristiina Tammimies, geneticist and researcher at the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institutet (KIND) received a prize within the field of medicine. The international prize was instituted by L’Oréal Foundation and Unesco in 1998 and may be found today as national programs in more than 50 countries.

Camilla Thulin

Facts Annica Black-Schaffer

Age
37 years

Career selection
Took her PhD in physics in 2009 at Stanford University, USA
2009-2011 Post doc at Nordita, Stockholm
2011-now Uppsala University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Division of Materials Theory

Scientific publications
More than 40 articles in for example Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B

Grants and distinctions
The Research Council's grant for researchers early in their career
Assistant Professor 2010 and Unga Forskare 2014
Göran Gustafssons stora pris till unga forskare (2014)
Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research: Career development programme 2014
Wallenberg Academy Fellows career programme (2014)