In Memoriam: Aron Pinczuk (1939-2022)

Feb 14 2022

Columbia Engineering mourns the loss of Aron Pinczuk, Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics at Columbia University. He passed away on February 13, 2022.

Professor Pinczuk was born on February 15, 1939 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received a licenciado degree in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires in 1962 and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969. Following the completion of his doctoral studies, he worked as an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania until 1970.

From 1971-1976, he worked at the National Atomic Energy Commission, was a member of the National Research Council, and was a faculty member in the Department of Physics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1973-1974. From December 1975-August 1976, he worked at the Max Planck Institut für Festkörperforschung in Stuttgart, Germany, and then made his way to New York where he worked as a Visiting Scientist at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights from 1976-1977. He was a member of the Technical Staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories (later renamed AT&T Bell Laboratories and then Lucent Technologies) from 1978-1998, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he received the Distinguished Member of Staff Award in 1985.

Professor Pinczuk joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1998 and held a joint appointment in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and the Department of Physics and, until 2008, was also a Technical Staff Member at Lucent. In addition to his teaching and research efforts, Professor Pinczuk was a member of the Columbia Nanoinitiative (CNI) - an interdisciplinary community within Columbia University dedicated to the support and development of research efforts in Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Professor Pinczuk was a leader in the field of resonant light-scattering from solids, with a focus on correlated electronic states in two dimensional materials. Professor Pinczuk explored the frontiers of basic physics, of fabrication protocols, and of materials science in nanoscale (one-billionth of a meter) artificial patterns. The fabrication of artificial patterns in semiconductor structures allows for the exploration of impact of fine-tuning (engineering) of electron states on device characteristics.The devices created in his research served as simulators of novel quantum phenomena and of advanced device concepts and addressed issues important to scientists seeking to create fundamental and applied science for the development of the next-generation of electronic and opto-electronic devices.

Professor Pinczuk’s research introduced novel optical methods that enabled a new understanding of the properties of novel materials and the physics of exotic phases of matter that emerge in semiconductors and semimetals at extremely low temperatures. His experiments, of a remarkable precision and delicacy, revealed quantum phenomena not previously believed to be observable including the excitation spectrum in the quantized hall effect, and his work was important to the initial understanding of the 'Dirac liquid' in graphene.

The author of numerous papers, Professor Pinczuk has also been the Editor in Chief of Solid State Communications since 2005. He also served on review panels for the U.S. NSF Division of Materials Research, the U.S. DOE Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, and the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, Argentina.

Professor Pinczuk was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1987, a  Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2002, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He was also a member of the Materials Research Society (MRS) and the Optical Society of America (OSA).

In 1994, Professor Pinczuk received the Oliver E. Buckley Prize for Condensed Matter Physics from the American Physical Society - one of the top prizes of the society; received an "Honoris-Causa" Doctorate Degree from the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid, Spain, in 1997; was the recipient of the Columbia University Avanessians Diversity Award in 2008; and received the Columbia University Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Faculty Excellence Award in 2015.

Professor Pinczuk was an active faculty member, advisor, and researcher at Columbia University up until the time of his death. He will be remembered by his colleagues and students for his excellence, kindness, and dedication to his teaching and research.



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