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Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed matter physics deals with fundamental questions concerning the behavior of very large numbers of strongly interacting degrees of freedom. It seeks to provide an understanding of the macroscopic physical phenomena and properties that arise from what are usually well understood basic microscopic interactions.

Having its beginnings insolid state physics, primarily concerned with the electronic properties of solids, modern condensed matter physics has grown to include study of such diverse systems as solids, liquids, superfluids, glasses, polymers, gels, colloids, neural networks, macromolecules, and indeed any system in which many interacting basic components lead to complex or qualitatively new cooperative behavior at the macroscopic scale. Research in modern condensed matter physics spans the range from understanding the properties of exotic and artificially fabricated materials, to fundamental questions concerning ordering, phase transitions, and critical behavior in classical and quantum statistical systems.

Department Research

Our faculty and laboratories conduct a variety of research in condensed matter physics:

  • Professor Bocko's Superconducting Electronics Laboratory focuses on high frequency digital signal processing, low noise signal detection, and in the quantum coherence of Josephson junction based circuits for use in quantum computation
  • Professor Gao's Surface Science Laboratory conducts investigations into the electronic and structural properties of solid surfaces and interfaces, with applications to nanostructures, organic semiconductor devices, and ultrafast electron dynamics
  • Professor Nichol investigates the quantum mechanics of nanoscale objects
  • Professor Rothberg studys the physics, chemistry, and materials science for making optoelectronic devices from organic materials
  • Professors Shapir and Teitel study theoretical condensed matter physics
  • Professors Shapir and Teitel are interested in the general area of critical phenomena in statistical systems
  • Professor Shapir explores the effects of randomness on phase transitions and the kinetics of interface growth
  • Professor Teitel studies the effects of vortex fluctuations on the macroscopic behavior of superconductors
  • Professor Emeritus Castner is interested in the metal insulator transition in doped semiconductors
  • Professor Douglass focused on models of climate change

Interdisciplinary Research

The breath of modern condensed matter physics leads naturally to interdisciplinary interactions with many other branches of pure and applied science. At the University, numerous groups in other departments have a close overlap with condensed matter, and have supported thesis research by physics students. These groups include research in:

See our Chemical Physics and Engineering page for more details. Members of the Condensed Matter Group in the department also participate in the University's interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science.