Leonid Levitov is a professor of physics in the condensed matter theory group of the
MIT Department of Physics. Levitov is a pioneer in the theory of quasicrystals—orderly
materials with “forbidden” non-crystallographic symmetries, discovered in 1985. He
co-authored a theory explaining the structural properties of quasicrystals by introducing
the concept of a structure projected from a high-dimensional periodic structure. In the
’90s, Levitov pioneered the theory of quantum noise in coherent electron transport. He
formulated the counting statistics approach, which evolved into a new tool in the field of
quantum transport. In 1993 he developed the concept of coherent current pulses allowing
the transmission of electrical signals in a noise-free fashion. These pulses, observed in 2013
and dubbed ‘levitons,’ have become the basis of electron optics.
In the last 10 years, Levitov developed a theory of electronic properties of graphene, a
newly discovered two-dimensional electron system. He introduced new concepts of graphene
optoelectronics, identifying a new mechanism of optoelectronic response involving multiple
generation and proliferation of hot carriers. He proposed graphene as a platform to generate
topological valley currents, and which was experimentally observed in 2014. These are
chargeless currents that do not dissipate any energy, a possible information carrier in next-
generation electronics and optoelectronics. Levitov also proposed graphene as a platform
for electron hydrodynamics and predicted low-dissipation electron flows with higher-than-
ballistic conduction (observed in 2017).
A native of Russia, Leonid Levitov earned his MA Diploma in physics at the Moscow
Physical-Technical Institute (1985), and his PhD in theoretical physics at the Landau
Institute (1989). He joined the MIT Physics faculty in 1991, becoming an associate professor
in 1996 and full professor of physics in 1997.