2021 John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh Medal and Prize

Professor Jerome P Gauntlett for distinguished contributions to our understanding of string theory and its application to quantum field theory, black holes, condensed matter physics and geometry. 

Professor Jerome P Gauntlett IOP John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh Medal and Prize winner 2021

Professor Jerome P Gauntlett has made outstanding and sustained contributions to our understanding of string theory and its interconnections with quantum field theory, black holes and geometry. He has become a highly respected international leader in this field.

Moreover, he has pioneered the use of string theory techniques in the study of strongly coupled condensed matter systems, a new approach that is beginning to have a big impact in this area.

Early in his career, Gauntlett made pioneering contributions that played an important role in the second string revolution of the mid-1990s, which led to the establishment of M-theory as the theory underlying strings. He conducted foundational studies on supersymmetric magnetic monopoles as a framework for exploring dualities.

His work revealed the way in which brane charges appear in the supersymmetry algebra of supergravity. He also discovered a general method for constructing solutions describing brane intersections and this was an important ingredient in the study of black holes in string theory.

Later, in a series of works, Gauntlett made groundbreaking progress in understanding supersymmetric solutions of supergravity utilising the mathematical tool of G-structures.

His results led to the discovery of many new supersymmetric black-hole solutions, including black rings and his own discovery of “black Saturn” solutions. Via the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory (AdS/CFT) correspondence, they also had a high impact on quantum field theory.

His discovery of infinite classes of Sasaki–Einstein manifolds was a breakthrough: each such manifold is dual to a quantum field theory and this work changed the status quo in AdS/CFT studies. It also provided the first examples of ‘irregular’ Sasaki–Einstein manifolds, disproving a notable conjecture in mathematics.

Gauntlett’s recent research makes him a leading international figure in the emerging and interdisciplinary field of using gravitational techniques to obtain insights into strongly coupled systems that arise in condensed matter physics, such as high-temperature superconductors.

He constructed the first examples of black-hole solutions in M-theory that describe superconducting phases. In a series of works, he also discovered rich classes of black-hole solutions that provide a dual description of phases of matter that are spatially modulated, such as charge density waves. In addition, he conducted extensive work on understanding thermoelectric transport and made a striking discovery that relates fluid flow on black-hole horizons to thermoelectric conductivities of quantum field theory.

This result provides a precise realisation of the old ‘membrane paradigm’ of black holes in the context of AdS/CFT.