Low Temperature Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.

About the group

As a special interest, member-driven group, we look at physics research and industries linked to low temperature physics. We also sponsor two prizes that recognise significant ideas and developments in the physics community.

We are interested in a range of topics linked to low temperature physics including:

  • superfluidity
  • superconductivity
  • techniques relevant to the production and maintenance of low temperatures
  • thermometry
  • milli-kelvin and micro-kelvin techniques
  • the study of the electrical, thermal, magnetic and mechanical properties of solids and fluids at low temperatures

What the group does

We also focus on systems operating at low temperatures and these include:

  • cryopumps 
  • infrared detectors
  • superconducting magnets
  • devices based on the Josephson effect

We have close links to the Superconductivity Group.

The Low Temperature Group was founded in 1945.

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Group physics prizes and competitions

Simon Memorial Prize

The prize is:

•    for distinguished work in experimental or theoretical low temperature physics
•    awarded every three years
•    international with no restrictions on the nationality of nominees
•    to commemorate outstanding contributions to science of Sir Francis Simon



Jukka Pekola

For fundamental achievements in quantum thermodynamics, metrology and cryogenics based on nanoscale electronic devices.

Professor Jukka Pekola

Pekola was born in 1958 in Pihlajavesi, Finland.

In 1982 he completed an M.Sc. in Technology (Physics) at the Helsinki University of Technology (HUT), now Aalto, and in 1984 gained his doctorate with a thesis on critical flow and persistent current experiments in superfluid helium-3.

He continued his work on the superfluid with a postdoc in the physics department of the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a return to HUT to a position of group leader in the low temperature laboratory.

In 1992 Pekola moved to the University of Jyväskylä, co-founding the first nano-physics laboratory in Finland, and joining the faculty in 1995. His new research programme in the physics of nanoscale devices has led to many breakthroughs and landmark results.

He returned to Helsinki in 2002, where he is now full professor of quantum nanophysics at Aalto.  There he founded the PICO research group in the low temperature laboratory which he heads to this day.

In 2001 Pekola was elected to the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters and to the Finnish Academy of Technical Sciences in recognition of his contributions to both fundamental and applied physics.

He was awarded the Theodor Homén Prize by the Finnish Academy Sciences and Letters in 2016.


Professor Louis Taillefer 

For pioneering transport measurements at high magnetic fields and low temperature in heavy-fermion and cuprate superconductors.


Peter Wölfle

For fundamental contributions to the theory of quantum transport processes in superfluid 3He, heavy fermion superconductors and disordered metals.


Sergey V Iordanski Nikolai B Kopnin

For calculations and predictions of the fundamental forces acting on quantised vortices in superfluids, superconductors and other ordered systems: the Iordanskii force and the Kopnin force.


Yasunobu Nakamura
Jaw-Shen Tsai

For pioneering demonstration of quantum coherent behaviour in a macroscopic object and for their subsequent explorations of quantum coherent physics in a series of novel superconducting devices.

The Simon Prize is generously supported by Oxford Instruments Inc. Find out about other science prizes sponsored by Oxford Instruments Inc.

About Francis (Franz) Simon 

Simon's research concerned measurement of specific heats at low temperatures, which remained the basis of his scientific interest throughout his life. He received his doctorate in 1921. In 1931, he was appointed to the chair of Physical Chemistry at the Technical University of Breslau, and in 1932 was a visiting professor at Berkeley. 

In June 1933, he accepted the invitation of FA Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell) to work at the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford. In 1935, he was appointed Reader in Thermodynamics, and Professor.

Simon was elected to the Royal Society in 1941. In 1952, he was elected an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also awarded:

  • a Knighhood in 1955
  • CBE for his war work on atomic energy in 1946
  • Linde Medal in 1952
  • First Kamerlingh Onnes Medal of the Dutch Institute of Refrigeration in 1950
  • Rumford Medal in 1948

Low Temperature PdD Thesis Prize

The prize is for a PhD thesis that makes the strongest contribution to the development of low-temperature physics and technology. 

  • The prize is £150.
  • The theses will have been submitted between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.
  • The deadline for nominations is 1 November 2019.


PhD thesis supervisors submit nominations by 1 November 2019 (preferably in PDF format) to:

Email: r.haley@lancaster.ac.uk


Thesis submissions should include:

  • the thesis
  • student’s CV, including publication list
  • summary of the major achievements included in the PhD thesis
  • whether the thesis has also been submitted to another IOP group for a PhD thesis prize
  • a brief one A4 page citation that includes confirmation of PhD examination and final submission dates


Theses are pre-screened by the chair, vice-chair and secretary of the group committee, which short-lists three. The winner is chosen by the eight-strong committee.

Group events 

Find group events on the IOP events portal.

Committee and contacts (including advisory panel)

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