Xie Chen is a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology and a 2021 Simons Investigator in Physics. At CalTech, Chen studies exotic topological phenomena that can emerge in strongly interacting quantum many-body systems. Her work uses ideas and tools in quantum information to explore topological states of matter and study the relationships between them. She discovered and systematically constructed symmetry-protected topological phases in strongly interacting systems in two and higher dimensions. She proposed methods to classify and detect anomalies in symmetry-enriched topological phases. Recently, Chen’s work on fracton phases generalized the notion of phase and universality to properly capture the unusual “beyond topology” phenomena discovered in certain quantum error-correction codes.
Chen obtained her Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012 and was a Miller research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining Caltech in 2014. She received the New Horizons in Physics Prize from the Breakthrough Foundation in 2020.