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Daniel C. Tsui
崔琦 (Cuī Qí)
Daniel Chee Tsui.jpg
Daniel C. Tsui at a dinner honoring Nobel Prize laureates
Born (1939-02-28) February 28, 1939 (age 84)
Fan village, Henan, China
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
Augustana College (B.Sc.)
Known for Fractional quantum Hall effect
Spouse(s) Linda Varland
Children 2
Awards Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1984)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1998)
Scientific career
Fields Experimental physics
Electrical engineering
Institutions Princeton University
Columbia University
Bell Laboratories
Boston University

Daniel Chee Tsui (Chinese: 崔琦; pinyin: Cuī Qí, born February 28, 1939) is a Chinese-born American physicist, Nobel laureate, and the Arthur Legrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, at Princeton University. Tsui's areas of research include electrical properties of thin films and microstructures of semiconductors and solid-state physics.

Tsui shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics with Robert B. Laughlin and Horst L. Störmer "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations."


Tsui was born into a humble Chinese family with two illiterate parents in Fanzhuang (Henan) (范庄), Henan, China, on February 28th, 1939. Born in the midst of the Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War, Tsui described his early childhood memories as being "filled with the years of drought, flood and war which were constantly on the consciousness of the inhabitants of my over-populated village."

In 1951, Tsui left for Hong Kong to attend Pui Ching Middle School in Kowloon, beginning his formal education at the level of sixth grade in his second year in Hong Kong. Tsui recalled facing difficulties due to his lack of familiarity with Cantonese dialect. Due to the war, many teachers at Pui Ching were graduates from China's most distinguished universities, such as Peking University, who otherwise would have likely been esteemed academics and scientists.

Upon graduating in 1957, Tsui was admitted to the National Taiwan University Medical School, but due to uncertainties over whether he would be able to return to his family in China, he remained in Hong Kong to enroll in Special Classes Centre, a special two-year government program intended to prepare high school graduates for entrance into the University of Hong Kong. While preparing for the entrance examination to the University of Hong Kong in spring of 1958, Tsui was awarded a full scholarship to attend Augustana College, his church pastor's Lutheran alma mater in the United States. Accepting the scholarship, Tsui arrived at Augustana College just after Labor Day of 1958.

After spending three years at Augustana College, Tsui graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1961 as the only student of Chinese descent in his college. Tsui continued his study in physics at the University of Chicago, from where he received his Ph.D. in physics in 1967 after completing a doctoral dissertation, titled "de Haas-van Alphen effect and electronic band structure of nickel", under the supervision of Royal Stark. He remarked that due to the influence of prominent Chinese theoretical physicists and Nobel laureates C. N. Yang and T. D. Lee, both of whom studied at the University of Chicago, he had always knew that he wanted to pursue graduate studies in physics at the institution.

While a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Tsui met Linda Varland, who was an undergraduate student there at the time, and the two married after the latter's graduation. Tsui is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Tsui and Varland have two daughters, Aileen and Judith. Judith graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with an B.A. in anthropology in 1991 and is now an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

After receiving his Ph.D. and then remaining in Chicago for a year of postdoctoral research, Tsui joined the research staff at Bell Laboratories to perform research in solid state physics in 1968. At Bell Laboratories, instead of studying mainstream topics of interest in semiconductor physics such as optics and high energy band-structures or their applications in devices, Tsui devoted his attention to a new field called the physics of two-dimensional electrons.

Tsui and Störmer made the groundbreaking discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect in 1982, while Laughlin provided a theoretical interpretation for the discovery the following year. This discovery will eventually be the reason of their winning of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Shortly after the discovery, Tsui departed from Bell Laboratories and joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Princeton University with the support of two Nobel laureates in February of 1982. After 28 years at Princeton, Tsui transferred to emeritus status in 2010.

He was also an adjunct senior research scientist in the physics department of Columbia University, and a research professor at Boston University.

Tsui is one of the 20 American recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics to sign a letter addressed to President George W. Bush in May of 2008, urging him to "reverse the damage done to basic science research in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill" by requesting additional emergency funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Awards and honors

See also

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