Condensed Matter Physics


From the left, first column: (upper figure) Cut plane view of electron bonding charge densities of an iron-phosphorus compound obtained from ab initio calculations, and (lower figure) scanning electron micrograph of fracture surface of ductile amorphous steel showing network of plastic deformation zones. Second column: Pole figures of a (002) MnAl thin film deposited on a MgO substrate. Third column: (upper) The magnetic strip domain structure of MnAl thin film revealed by Magnetic Force Microscopy image. (Lower) The detailed magnetic parallel strip domains showing the width is ~10 nm. Fourth column: Color contour map of the strongly anisotropic spin resonance neutron scattering intensity in the momentum space obtained from superconducting FeTe0.5Se0.5 whose crystal structure is shown in the inset.

Condensed matter physics seeks to understand the striking new physical properties that may emerge when very large numbers of atoms or molecules organize into solids or liquids. Research in this area has led to fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of metals, semiconductors and superconductors, as well as to the inventions of the transistor, diode laser, and integrated circuit. Condensed matter physics thus comprises the technological underpinning for the entire modern computer and communications industry. For these reasons, worldwide, this branch of physics commands the largest number of researchers, who work in academic institutions, major industrial and government laboratories, and small entrepreneurial enterprises. The problems addressed by condensed matter physicists are often interdiscplinary in nature, affecting a number of other scientific fields including chemistry, biology, electrical engineering, and materials science. The University of Virginia maintains a diverse and vigorous research program in both experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics.

The experimental condensed matter research groups at UVa explore the structural, optical, electronic, and magnetic properties of different types of solids ranging from amorphous to crystalline systems with unusual properties. Activities include the synthesis and characterization of metallic glasses, quasicrystals, colossal magnetoresistive manganites and high temperature superconductors, measurements of electronic and magnetic properties of new intermetallic compounds, characterization of static and dynamic lattice effects in oxides, intermetallic alloys and martensites using the pair density function analysis, study of the microscopic processes at the interface of two relatively sliding materials as well as inside metals and crystals during plastic deformation, study of phase transitions, measurement of magnetic and quantum correlation effects in heavy fermion and high-temperature superconductors, scanning-probe and optical studies of new semiconductor alloys, studies of wetting and adsorption on crystal surfaces, and development of far-infrared applications of semiconductors and superconductors. The condensed matter community at UVa has access to a variety of cryogenic facilities capable of scanning temperatures from as low as 15 mK to room temperature, several high-field magnets, a quantum-interference magnetometer, different scanning-probe instruments such as scanning tunneling, force, and optical microscopes, various vacuum thin-film deposition and etching systems, and a range of microwave and millimeter-wave analytic instruments. In addition, many research projects work closely with Electrical Engineering and Materials Science Departments, using facilities such as a photolithography lab and X-ray diffraction and elec-tron-beam microscopes, as well as national labs where high magnetic fields sources are available. The group also performs research at national and international neutron and x-ray facilities and carries out high precession measurements on the atomistic properties of materials particularly under high pressure.

Theoretical condensed matter physicists at UVa try to arrive at a quantitative description of many unusual properties observed in novel materials and fluids. Such research includes an investigation into what makes the new generation of high-temperature superconductors work as they do, solving model problems like quantum spin chains which are believed to contain the features of newly synthesized low-dimensional metals and magnets. Studies of the structure of magnetic vortices in superconductors and the interactions that bind atoms and molecules to solid surfaces are also underway. For example, the point-contact tunneling amplitude for the fractional quantum Hall effect was recently exactly computed.


Louis A. Bloomfield Louis A. Bloomfield
Ph.D., 1983, Stanford

Professor Bloomfield is studying borosilicones, remarkable materials that have been misunderstood for over 70 years. Dismissed as scientifically uninteresting and used as children's toys (e.g., Silly Putty), borosilicones are actually network liquids---dynamic macromolecules that appear elastic on short timescales but exhibit flow on longer timescales. Each borosilicone is a vast covalent network of silicone polymer chains joined by 3-attachment boron crosslinks. At any instant, a borosilicone is a highly-crosslinked elastic material. Because the boron crosslinks are temporary, ... More>

Utpal Chatterjee Utpal Chatterjee
Ph.D., 2007, University of Illinois - Chicago

My research is focused on a branch of physics, commonly known as condensed matter physics, which is essentially the study of physical properties of matter in their liquid or solid state employing the principles of quantum as well as statistical mechanics. My research interest lies in the experimental investigations of various solid state systems which exhibit novel electronic and magnetic properties, such as cuprate high temperature superconductors, colossal magneto resistive manganites, different transition metal dichalcogenides hosting charge density wave (CDW) as well as metal ... More>

Gia-Wei Chern Gia-Wei Chern
Ph.D., 2008, Johns Hopkins University

My primary research interests are in theoretical condensed matter physics with a special focus on strongly correlated electron systems. A central theme of my research is concerned with the following two questions: (i) What kind of emergent phases and collective behaviors are possible in a many-body system ? and (ii) What are their experimental manifestations ? Our approach to strongly correlated systems is based on a combination of model building, analytical calculation, and numerical simulations. Find out more about my research. More>

Keivan Esfarjani Keivan Esfarjani
Ph.D., 1991, University of Delaware

Computational Materials Science More>

Avik Ghosh Avik Ghosh
Ph.D., 1999, Ohio State University

At the Virginia Nano-Computing Research Group (, our focus is on understanding non-equilibrium properties of nano-scale material structures for interesting applications. Our work applies a combined understanding of fundamental physics, chemistry, material science, and device engineering to explore novel device concepts. Our goal is to connect emerging materials with novel devices towards innovative circuit and architecture, using tools that go from 'first principles' models to quantum transport ... More>

Patrick Edward Hopkins Patrick Edward Hopkins
Ph.D., 2008, University of Virginia

Patrick is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, with courtesy appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Physics, and the ExSiTE Lab.  The ExSiTE lab's research interests are in energy transport and coupled photonic interactions with condensed matter, soft materials, liquids, vapors, plasmas and their interfaces.  We use various optical thermometry-based experiments to measure the thermal conductivity, thermal boundary conductance, thermal accommodation, ... More>

Dustin M. Keller Dustin M. Keller
Ph.D., 2010, Ohio University

Professor Keller conducts research in spin physics at the intersection of high-energy, nuclear, and condensed matter physics, with interests in hadron spin structure, physics beyond the standard model, spin-sensitive phenomena, and mapping the inner structure of composite spin systems. This research involves the study of quark and gluon dynamics as well as the study of spin degrees of freedom to probe polarized observables. This research could also be ... More>

Israel Klich Israel Klich
Ph.D., 2004, Israel Institute of Technology

My main field of interest is condensed matter physics with strong overlaps with mathematical physics and field theory. My research interests include entanglement in many-body systems, the Casimir effect, topological order and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. More>

Eugene Kolomeisky Eugene Kolomeisky
Ph.D., 1988, Academy of Sciences of the USSR

My current research effort consists of trying to understand static and dynamic properties of low-dimensional nonuniform quantum Bose gases. The experimental observation of Bose-Einstein condensation (1995) in trapped alkali vapors has ushered in a new era of superlow-temperature physics bridging the disciplines of atomic and condensed matter physics. Today, experimentalists can produce and manipulate condensates of different sizes and various geometries, and practical applications of this new state of matter are just on the horizon. Some of these applications (ultrasensitive ... More>

Seung-Hun Lee Seung-Hun Lee
Ph.D., 1996, Johns Hopkins

My research focuses on strongly correlated materials such as non-conventional high temperature superconductors, quantum magnets, frustrated spin systems, magnetic molecules, and multiferroics. The main experimental techniques that the group uses are elastic and inelastic neutron scattering with which one can directly probe the many body response function. Neutron scattering experiments are performed at several domestic and international facilities. My group also has the in-house capability of growing high quality single crystals of transition metal oxides using a state-of-the-art ... More>

Despina Louca Despina Louca
Ph.D., 1997, Pennsylvania

Professor Louca's group studies phase transitions in solids. The group is interested in understanding how the underlying interactions involving the spin, charge and lattice degrees of freedom lead to emergent properties such as polaron formation, Jahn-Teller type distortions, spin and charge density waves, superconductivity and quantum spin liquid states. The most recent systems of interest include topological insulators and semimetals, spintronic antiferromagnets of the I-Mn-V class, transition metal dichalcogenides, disorder ... More>

Dmytro Pesin Dmytro Pesin
Ph. D. , 2009, University of Washington, Seattle

A condensed matter theorist whose research focuses on quantum many-particle systems, Dmytro Pesin studies the effects of particle correlations and disorder physics in topological systems, providing guidance for material research by considering realistic aspects of topological phases. In particular, Prof. Pesin studies the effects of band geometry on the electronic hydrodynamics in clean crystals, in particular Dirac/Weyl semimetals. He also works on developing the theory of current-induced phenomena in three-dimensional metals with nontrivial band geometry. More>

Joseph Poon Joseph Poon
Ph.D., 1978, California Institute of Technology

My research group currently focuses on three projects: (i) Experimental and computational study of thermoelectric properties of semiconductors and semimetals. The narrow-bandgap semiconductors studied are often in the proximity of topological semimetals that show unusual thermo-magnetic and electrical transport properties. (ii) Synthesis of thin films and computational study of ferrimagnetic and antiferromagnetic heterostructures that show skyrmionic state and anomalous Hall effect. The unique magnetic spin texture and fast dynamics are ideal for low-power and ultrafast spintronics. (iii) ... More>

Bellave S. Shivaram Bellave S. Shivaram
Ph.D., 1984, Northwestern

Professor Shivaram is a condensed matter experimentalist whose research spans a wide variety of key areas. His scientific career started with  work on the quantum fluid, liquid 3He, a strongly correlated Fermi system, focusing on its acoustic properties in the superfluid state. He has stayed with the theme of strongly correlated Fermi systems investigating their superconducting and magnetic properties at very low temperatures and high magnetic fields.  A significant portion of his work has focused on the thermodynamic, electromagnetic and acoustic properties of ... More>

Chi Yan Jeffrey Teo Chi Yan Jeffrey Teo
Ph.D., 2011, Pennsylvania

A central theme of condensed matter physics is the study of systems with emergent collective degrees of freedom that can behave very differently from the microscopic individual constituents from which they arise. Quantum mechanics provides a further topological twist to the conventional theory. Due to strong correlation effects, the quantum ground state of a condensed matter system can be spatially entangled to an extent where its emergent quasiparticles behave so exotically that they are impossible to be realized by conventional fundamental particles. For example, an ... More>

Marija Vucelja Marija Vucelja
Ph.D., 2010, Weizmann Institute of Science

Marija Vucelja is a statistical physicist interested in biophysics, soft condensed matter and computational physics. She studied mixing and clustering of particles in flows; problems that are relevant for understanding the formation of rain droplets and planetesimals, clumping of pollutants on water surfaces and have many industrial applications. She derived the compressibility of surface flows and described the aggregation-disorder transition of particles in flows. Using “chaotic mixing,” she substantially accelerated specific Monte Carlo algorithms (the main numerical tools ... More>

Jongsoo Yoon Jongsoo Yoon
Ph.D., 1997, Penn State

My research is focused on understanding of phases and phase transitions in two dimensional (2D) electronic systems such as thin superconductor or metal films and semiconductor heterostructure or quantum well. At sufficiently low temperatures and high magnetic fields, these 2D systems exhibit many interesting quantum phenomena including integer and fractional quantum Hall effect, quantum phase transitions, and electron crystallization. However, many aspects of these phenomena are poorly understood. More>

Recent News

Recent Talks

Recent Publications

  1. "Universal magnetic structure of the half-magnetization phase in Cr- based spinels", M. Matsuda, K. Ohoyama, S. Yoshii, H. Nojiri, P. Frings, F. Duc, B. Vignolle, G. L. J. A. Rikken, L. P. Regnault, S.-H. Lee, H. Ueda, Y. Ueda, Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 047201 (2010).
  2. "Superconductivity in transition metal doped MoB4", J. W. Simonson, D. Wu, S. J. Poon, and S. A. Wolf, J. Superconductivity and Novel Magnetism 23, 1557 (2010).
  3. "Compressive plasticity and toughness of a Ti-based bulk metallic glass", X. J. Gu, S. J. Poon, G. J. Shiflet, and J. J. Lewandowski, Acta Materialia 58, 1708 (2010).
  4. "Relaxation dynamics of the metal-semiconductor transition in VO2 thin films", J. H. Claassen, J. W. Lu, K. G. West, S. A. Wolf, Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 132102 (2010).
  5. "Transport phase diagram for superconducting thin films of tantalum with homogeneous disorder", Y. Z. Li, C. L. Vicente, J. Yoon, Phys. Rev. B 81, 020505 (2010).
  6. "Study of SF6 adsorption on graphite using infrared spectroscopy", P. Thomas, Y. Xia, D. A. Boyd, T. A. Hopkins, G. B. Hess, J. Chem. Phys. 131 (12), 124709 (2009).
  7. "Spin-lattice order in frustrated ZnCr2O4", S. Ji, S.-H. Lee, C. Broholm, T. Y. Koo, W. Ratcliff, S-W. Cheong, P. Zschack, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 037201 (2009).
  8. "Magnetic field-induced phase transitions in a weakly coupled s = 1/2 quantum spin dimer system Ba3Cr2O8", M. Kofu, H. Ueda, H. Nojiri, Y. Oshima, T. Zenmoto, K. C. Rule, S. Gerischer, B. Lake, C. D. Bastista, Y. Ueda, S.-H. Lee, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 177204 (2009).
  9. "Hidden quantum gap state in the static stripe phase of La2-xSrxCuO4", M. Kofu, S.-H. Lee, M. Fujita, H.-J. Kang, H. Eisaki, K. Yamada, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 047001 (2009).
  10. "Weakly coupled s = 1/2 quantum spin singlets in Ba3Cr2O8", M. Kofu, J.-H. Kim, S. Ji, S.-H. Lee, H. Ueda, Y. Qiu, H. J. Kang, M. Green, Y. Ueda, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 037206 (2009).
  11. "Formation of local electric dipoles with no unique polar axis in Tb3Fe5O12", Despina Louca, K. Kamazawa, T. Proffen, Phys. Rev. B 80, 214406 (2009).
  12. "High Capacity Hydrogen Absorption in Transition Metal Ethylene Complexes: consequences of nanoclustering", A. B. Phillips and B. S.Shivaram, Nanotechnology 20, 204020 (2009).
  13. "Colloquium: Electron-lattice interaction and its impact on high Tc superconductivity, V. Z. Kresin and S. A. Wolf, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 481 (2009).
  14. "Properties of vanadium and tantalum granular oxide-metal tunnel junction fabricated by electrochemical anodization", W. Fan, D. Kirkwood, J. Lu, S. A. Wolf, Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 232110 (2009).
  15. "Multiple-Trap Correlations in the Room-Temperature Random Telegraph Signal of a Carbon Nanotube Field-Effect Transistor". Tsz Wah (Jack) Chan , Brian Burke , Kenneth Evans , Keith Williams, Smitha Vasudevan, Mingguo Liu , Joe Campbell , Avik Ghosh, Phys. Rev. B 80, 033402 (2009).
  16. "Infrared spectroscopic study of C2F6 monolayers and bilayers on graphite", T. A. Hopkins, D.A. Boyd, Y. Xia, G. M. Shifflett, F. M. Hess, and G. B. Hess, J. Chem. Phys. 128 (15), 154714 (2008).
  17. "External magnetic field effects on a distorted kagome antiferromagnet", J.-H. Kim, S. Ji, S.-H. Lee, B. Lake, T. Yildirim, H. Nojiri, K. Habicht, Y. Qiu, K. Kiefer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 107201 (2008).
  18. "Field-induced antiferromagnetism and competition in the metamagnetic state of terbium gallium garnet", K. Kamazawa, Despina Louca, R. Morinaga, T. J. Sato, Q. Huang, J. R. D. Copley, Y. Qiu, Phys. Rev. B 78, 064412 (2008).
  19. "(Zr,Hf)Co(Sb,Sn) half-Heusler phases as high-temperature (>700 oC) p-type thermoelectric materials", S. R. Culp, S, J, Poon, V. Ponnambalam, J. Edwards, and T. M. Tritt, Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 022105 (2008).
  20. "Poisson's ratio and intrinsic plasticity in metallic glasses", S. J. Poon, A. W. Zhu, and G. J. Shiflet, Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 261902 (2008).
  21. "High Capacity Hydrogen Absorption in Transition Metal Ethylene Complexes Observed via Nanogravimetry", A. B. Phillips and B. S.Shivaram, Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 105505 (2008).
  22. "Very large anisotropy in the dc conductivity of epitaxial VO2 thin films grown on (011) rutile TiO2", J. W. Lu, K. G. West, S. A. Wolf, Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 262107 (2008).
  23. "Deep-UV Pattern generation in PMMA", Brian G Burke, Timothy J Herlihy Jr, Andrew B Spisak and Keith A Williams, Nanotechnology 19, 215301 (2008).
  24. "Quantum spin liquid states in the two dimensional kagome antiferromagnets, ZnxCu4-x(OD)6Cl2", S.-H. Lee, H. Kikuchi, Y. Qiu, B. Lake, Q. Huang, K. Habicht, K. Kiefer, Nature Materials 6, 853 (2007).
  25. "Spin-lattice instability to a fractional magnetization state in the spinel HgCr2O4", M. Matsuda, H. Ueda, A. Kikkawa, Y. Tanaka, K. Katsumata, Y. Narumi, T. Inami, Y. Ueda, S.-H. Lee, Nature Physics 3, 397 (2007).
  26. "Characterization of Nanostructures During Growth Using a Quartz Monitor", A.B. Phillips and B.S. Shivaram, Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 153109 (2007).
  27. "Spin Incommensurability and Two Phase Competition in Cobaltites", D. Phelan, Despina Louca et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 235501 (2006).
  28. "Nano-magnetic droplets and implications to orbital ordering in La1-xSrxCoO3", D. Phelan, Despina Louca et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 027201 (2006).
  29. "Origin of nonlinear transport across the magnetically induced superconductor-metal-insulator transition in two dimensions", Y. Seo, Y. Qin, C. L. Vicente, K. S. Choi, J. Yoon, Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 057005 (2006).