Elihu Abrahams

Elihu Abrahams received his AB degree in 1947 from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. degree from the same institution in 1952. He was a Research Associate, then Research Assistant Professor at UIUC from 1953 to 1956. He joined the physics faculty at Rutgers University in 1956, where he became Director of the Center for Materials Theory in 1999. Abrahams was then named a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at UCLA in 2008.

In the mid-1960s Abrahams became involved with the newly established Aspen Center for Physics, and with his close friend, the late David Pines, played a central role in building its condensed matter physics program. He was president of the ACP from 1979 to 1983, the chair of its board of trustees from 1997 to 2000, and remained an active part of the Aspen physics community until his passing.

In 1979, Abrahams, Nobel laureate Philip W. Anderson, Donald Licciardello, and T.V. Ramakrishnan published the highly influential paper “Scaling Theory of Localization: Absence of Quantum Diffusion in Two Dimensions” in Physical Review Letters 42. Often referred to as the “gang of four paper” in physics circles, the authors proposed new, precise predictions about the behavior of electrons in disordered materials. In 2003, the American Physical Society named it among the top ten most often cited papers published in the Physical Review. As of his death, it has been cited 6,119 times.

His scientific research included the theory of condensed matter systems, including superconductivity, phase transitions, strongly correlated electron systems, and disorder.

He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His honors also included: A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976, election to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1987, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999.

Abrahams passed away on October 18, 2018, shortly after learning he had received the 2019 Buckley Prize. He received the prize for pioneering research in the physics of disordered materials and hopping conductivity.

This obituary was taken in part from the Aspen Times here.

Positions Held

Trustee, 1975 – 1982 & 1991 – 1994
General Member, 1976 – 2006
Scientific Secretary, 1976 – 1977
President, 1979 – 1982
Honorary Trustee, 1983 – 2018
Chair of the Board, 1997 – 2000

Related Content

Photo of Elihu Abrahams

Presidential Essay from Elihu Abrahams

By Elihu Abrahams

In late summer of 1979, I was elected ACP President. It can be appreciated that by this time, the Center was a smoothly functioning institution under the firm guidance of Sally Hume Mencimer, its Administrative Vice President. Therefore, the position of President appeared to me to be not very burdensome