Fonds 1997 - Allan Griffin fonds

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Reference code

UTA 1997


Allan Griffin fonds


  • 1962-2014 (Creation)

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1.24 m of textual records (10 boxes + 1 oversize folder)
0.04 m of graphic records (4 files)

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Biographical history

Allan Griffin was a faculty member of the University of Toronto’s Department of Physics from 1967-2011, where he taught and conducted research in a number of areas of theoretical condensed matter physics, in particular Bose-Einstein condensation.

Born on February 10, 1939 in Vancouver, British Columbia, he entered the University of British Columbia at the age of 17, obtaining his B.Sc. in Mathematics & Physics in 1960, and an M.Sc. a year later in Theoretical Physics. He then went to Cornell University, where his doctoral studies in theoretical solid state physics were supervised by Vinay Ambegaokar. His thesis, entitled “Theory of the Thermal Conductivity of Gapless Superconductors,” resulted in an influential and widely-cited paper published in 1965, the year Griffin received his Ph.D. Following this, Griffin spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, where he worked on superconductivity alongside renowned solid-state theorist Kazumi Maki. In 1967, Griffin was hired by the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor; he held full professor status from 1976 to 2004. Griffin primarily taught at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. Throughout his career, he mentored and supported the career development of countless young students and postdocs.

Over the course of his career, Griffin pursued many problems in condensed matter physics, including surface physics, plasmonic excitations in solids, phonons, and d-wave superconductivity. However, a reoccurring and increasingly prominent interest was Bose-Einstein condensation, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein in 1925 and, beginning in 1938, suspected to play a role in the dynamical properties of superfluid Helium-four (4He). Griffin supervised a number of Ph.D. students whose work touched on this, including his first, T.H. Cheung, who finished his thesis “Excitations in Bose Fluids”, in 1971. In 1993, after more than two decades of work on this topic, Allan published a monograph entitled Excitations in a Bose-Condensed Liquid. This text became a standard reference book within quantum liquid research field.

Griffin was an active member of the Canadian Association of Physicists throughout his career, advocating for Canadian physics and physicists. He served as Chair in 1993. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2003 and was a member of the American Physical Society from 2004. In 2001, he was appointed Visiting Professor at the Collège de France, simultaneously receiving a Bronze Medal from that organization. Griffin also held a number of visiting professorships, including at the University of Trento (1995), Italy, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. (1974) and was a Visiting Research Physicist at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (1987-1988).

Towards the end of his career, became interested in the history of liquid helium and superfluidity, in particular, Canadian contributions to this field. He helped found Canadian Association of Physicist’s (CAP) Division of History of Physics, serving as Chair in 2005 and 2006. He also played an organizational role in the ultracold physics community, initiating a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research-sponsored (CIFAR) workshop and conference series focused on ultracold matter, held in Banff and Toronto in the spring and fall of 2005.

Griffin died on May 19, 2011 in Toronto, survived by his wife Christine McClymont and extended family.

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Personal records of Allan Griffin, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Toronto. Includes notes and drafts for research and articles, correspondence with students and colleagues, notebooks from Griffin’s own education, teaching resources such as lecture notes, drafts and transparencies for addresses, and a large number of reprints of Professor Griffin’s publications.

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