Condensed Matter Physics

The condensed matter group has varied activities in the interdisciplinary areas of condensed matter physics, material science, and nanotechnology.  We have a group of eight condensed matter people in the department engaged in a wide variety of research projects, some of which is described below.

Yaroslaw Bazaliy is engaged in the theoretical study of the behavior of nanomagnets in the framework of the new research area called spintronics.  Spintronics uses spin currents and spin density similar to the way in which the electric current and charge are used in ordinary electronics.

Mas Crawford’s group studies magnetism and magnetic materials, researching new approaches to measure the fundamental properties of magnetic materials, specifically at nanometer length scales and picosecond time scales.

Rick Creswick's research covers both the foundations of statistical physics and condensed matter physics. Currently he is investigating analogues of the famous "spin echo" in systems of charged particles. These systems exhibit a symmetry that allows their time evolution to be reversed, and therefore offers an interesting laboratory in which to study the thermodynamic arrow of time. In collaboration with the particle astrophysics group, he is studying the feasibility of using various materials for low temperature bolometers and the possibility that channeling by ions recoiling from collisions with WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) may help reveal the presence of dark matter.

Scott Crittenden’s group works on bacteria that generate electricity as a natural byproduct of metabolism with the purely biological nanowires they produce and on the development of new techniques for scanning probe microscopy to explore material properties at the atomic scale.

Timir Datta’s group projects involve high temperature superconductivity, mesoscopic quantum transport, deterministic chaos, and the effects of disorder in linear and non-linear systems, and experimental measurements of gravity.

Milind Kunchur’s group is involved in two main areas:  (1) Phenomena in superconducting nanowires and nanostructured thin films at ultra-short time scales and under extreme conditions.  (2) Psychophysics, auditory neurophysiology, and high-fidelity audio.

Yuriy Pershin works in the field of computational/theoretical physics.  His current research concerns investigation of charge and spin transport in molecules, semiconductor structures and other submicron electronic devices.  He is also interested in different aspects of transport in biological systems.

Richard Webb's program includes measurements on nano-scale devices to elucidate the underlying quantum physics responsible for their magnetic and electrical properties. He is also currently attempting to fabricate nano-electromechanical oscillators as an aide in extracting the fundamental spin dynamics of novel magnetic systems.

We have built up a significant set of shared use equipment that is officially part of the Nanocenter although most of it is actually in physics faculty laboratories.  For major equipment, we have multiple atomic force microscopes, a bacterial fermenter, a confocal microscope, two SEMs, one with 1 nm resolution, a femtosecond pulsed laser, multiple thermal, plasma, and e-gun evaporators, a reactive ion etcher, and multiple low temperature dilution refrigerators.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is common; we work with people in Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, the Medical School, and the History department.