Warren Pickett

Headshot of Warren Pickett

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Office: 427 Physics Building
Phone: +1 (530) 220-2138
Fax: +1 (530)752-4717
Email: wepickett@ucdavis.edu

Personal Professional Website: http://yclept.ucdavis.edu/index.html

Research Interests:

Research in Theoretical Condensed Matter Theory

Warren Pickett joined the department in 1997, after spending 18 years in theoretical condensed matter physics research at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. Much of his research revolves around computational implementations of the density functional approach to understanding electronic behavior at the microscopic level, with applications to some of the most intriguing condensed matter physics questions. The phenomena that are studied include high temperature superconductivity, half-metallic ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism, materials behavior under extreme conditions (including appearance of high temperature superconductivity), polar discontinuities and confinement effects in nanostructures, and exposition of relativistic effects (from spin-orbit coupling) in condensed matter.

Around 1984, with two collaborators Pickett used the new supercomputer of the time (Cray I, at Boeing) to calculate the electronic structure and Fermi surfaces of the heavy fermion superconductor UBe13, in one of the largest condensed matter physics calculations at the time. In 1987 he calculated the Fermi surfaces of the most heavily studied high temperature superconductor, YBa2Cu3O7, with the predictions confirmed only 2-3 years later. He has demonstrated formally the possibility of single spin superconductivity in a half-metallic antiferromagnet, and provided the explanation for the surprising 40 K superconductivity in MgB2 only four months after its discovery. Computational materials discovery and design has long been a keen interest, and he has published a number of provocative predictions (unfortunately, most remain unconfirmed!). A recent emphasis in his research effort is to extend the widely used electronic structure methods to apply to the most exotic classes of matter, the strongly correlated systems that include Mott insulators and heavy fermion metals.

Pickett's research is supported by Basic Energy Sciences in the Department of Energy, and by the National Science Foundation. Over the past decade he has participated strongly in research teams, such as DOE's Computational Materials Science Network (CMSN) program and Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC), and NSF's Physics at the Information Frontier (PIF) program. He serves regularly on scientific review boards and advisory committees in the U.S. and abroad.

Research Areas

Career History

  • Ph.D., State University of New York, Stony Brook, 1975
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Bristol, 1975-1976
  • IBM Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, 1976-1977
  • Research Associate, Northwestern University, 1978-1979
  • Research Physicist, Naval Research Laboratory, 1979-1988
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Daresbury Laboratory, 1983-1984
  • Supervisory Research Physicist, Naval Research Laboratory, 1988-1992
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Cavendish Laboratory, 1990-1991
  • Senior Scientist, Naval Research Laboratory, 1992-1997
  • Professor, University of California, Davis, 1996-Present
  • Department Chair, University of California, Davis, 2008-2011


  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics, 2011
  • Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists, 2005
  • Centennial Speakers Program, American Physical Society, 1999-2000
  • Centennial Symposium Lecturer at the American Physical Society Centennial Meeting, 1999
  • Sigma Xi Technical Achievement Award in Pure Science, Naval Research Laboratory, 1993
  • E. O. Hulbert Award, Naval Research Laboratory, 1990
  • Second Prize, IBM Supercomputing Competition (w/ R. E. Cohen and H. Krakauer), 1990
  • Named to Top 10 Technology Talents of 1989 by Washington Technology, 1989
  • Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1989
  • Scientific Achievement Award, Washington Academy of Sciences, 1985
  • Alan Berman Research Publication Awards, NRL, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1992