Professor Steve Bramwell Wins the 2012 Europhysics Prize

Professor Steve Bramwell

Professor Steve Bramwell has won the Europhysics Prize, Europe’s foremost prize for condensed matter physics that is awarded every 2 years by the European Physics Society Condensed Matter Division.

Professor Bramwell shares the 2012 Europhysics Prize prize with 5 other workers from the USA, Germany and the UK for “for the prediction and experimental observation of magnetic monopoles in spin ice.”

Professor Bramwell (with collaborator M. J. Harris) discovered and named the unusual magnetic material “spin ice” in 1997, drawing attention to its analogy with an electrical material, ice. This laid the foudnaton of the theoretical prediction in 2008 of effective magnetic monopoles in spin ice, analogous to electrical charges [1].  Then in October 2009 experiments by Bramwell and others reported in the journals Nature and Science proved the existence of these monopoles [2-4]. The Europhysics Prize honours these recent developments.[1-4]

Currents of the magnetic monopoles are to some extent analogous to eletcrical currents: hence Bramwell coined the term “magnetricity” to describe them.

Professor Bramwell is at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London (UCL). He was formerly a professor of Physical Chemistry at UCL for 15 years.

Of the award he says “To win the Europhysics Prize is a huge honour.  I congratulate my co-recipients and thank my collaborators and other physicists whose years of work have established spin ice as one of the most exciting fields of physics.”


[1] Castelnovo Moessner and Sondhi, Nature 451, 42 (2008).

[2] Bramwell, Giblin et al., Nature 461, 956 (2009)

[3] Fennell et al. & Bramwell, Science 326, 415 (2009)

[4] Morris et al., Science 326 411 (2009)