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Condensed Matter Physics

Focusing on solids, their growth, properties, and behavior

Condensed matter physics is one of the largest recognized disciplines within physics. It is broadly the study of liquids and solids, from fundamentals to applications. 

At WVU, our research is primarily focused on solids, their growth, properties, and behavior to various stimuli, such as magnetic fields or ultrashort laser pulses. Our goal is to design, grow, and control emergent quantum many-body phenomena to address a wide range of technological challenges from more efficient solar cells to scalable quantum computers and much more. To do this, we seek to understand and create the appropriate mechanical, thermodynamic, electrodynamic, and topological order of stand-alone materials and interfaces between different materials.

The group employs state-of-the-art tools for growth of ultrathin materials and heterostructures, measuring charge transport, magnetic and optical properties, and computing structural, electronic and thermodynamic properties. Many of these tools are in-house at WVU, in addition to which our researchers engage with national facilities for advanced characterization. 

Our faculty are supported by the National Science Foundation, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, US Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Energy, and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. We host many graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in this endeavor.

Associated Faculty

  • Prof. Wathiq Abdul-Razzaq | Research Interests: Abdul-Razzaq's research addresses diverse areas including studies of magnetic and transport properties of thin films and multilayers, magnetic nanoparticles, and applied studies related to health and environment. Current focus is on electrosmog, geomagnetism and education. 
  • Prof. Alan Bristow | Research Interests: Bristow uses short laser pulses to measure and control coherent and dynamic properties of electrons in condensed matter. Light-matter interactions provide insight into new physics at the nanoscale and are useful characterization tools for materials that have potential for electronic, photonic, spintronic and energy-harvesting applications. He currently serves as the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and Research. 
  • Prof. Edward Flagg | Research Interests: Flagg studies light-matter interactions at the level of single photons. Current topics of interest include the coherence of single photons emitted by quantum dots, coherent control of electron spin degrees of freedom, and spin-photon interfaces. 

  • Prof. Mikel “Micky” Holcomb | Research Interests: Holcomb's research focuses on the high-quality growth and novel characterization of strongly correlated systems. The primary focus is on the effect of interface properties on bulk and coupling phenomena, such as magnetic dead layers (the loss of magnetism near the interface or surface) and magnetoelectricity (electric control of magnetism or vice versa). Ultrafast optical and synchrotron techniques are utilized to provide depth-dependent information on atomic valence, magnetization and symmetry.

  • Prof. Matthew Johnson | Research Interests: Johnson's research interests lie in the realm of nanotechnology. His research activities have covered a wide variety of systems and approaches: growth –from chemical synthesis to molecular beam epitaxy; patterning –from self-assembly to electron-beam, ion and optical lithography; characterization –including scanning probe microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. His research efforts naturally lend themselves to collaboration which has included bio-mimetics, fuel cells, tribology, superconductivity, ferro-electrics, and novel infra-red laser and detectors. 

  • Prof. Lian Li | Research Interests: Li searches for different quantum phases of matter. Current topics of interest include epitaxial growth of topological insulators and semimetals, Fe-based superconductors, and 2D transition metal dichalcogenides, as well as in situ characterization using low temperature scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. 

  • Prof. Subhasish Mandal | Research Interests: Mandal uses first principles-based computer simulations to perform research on fundamental problems in quantum materials. The interactions between the spin, charge, and structural degrees of freedom become important in these problems and lead to exciting phenomena like high-temperature superconductivity or the quantum spin Hall effect. His research on strongly correlated materials is determined to not only solve critical phenomena but also to understand and design materials which have potential applications for energy storage, energy conservation, and to build future electronic devices that are smaller, faster, and smarter.

  • Prof. Aldo Romero | Research Interests: Romero has been involved in implementing and using Density Functional Theory, Time Dependent Density Functional Theory, and many particle approaches (GW or Bethe-Salpeter), which are the methods most often used to describe any material. Prof. Romero’s experience goes from crystalline systems, amorphous and glasses to different types of nanostructures. Routinely, Prof. Romero performs computational materials characterization, such as determining the electronic, optical, elastic, vibrational and magnetic properties based on these theories. 

  • Prof. Mohindar Seehra | Research Interests: Although Seehra retired in August 2016, he continues to remain active in mentoring younger physicists, as well as in research and writing in the areas of magnetism and nanomaterials.

  • Prof. Tudor Stanescu | Research Interests: Stanescu's research is driven by current experimental observations that challenge the standard paradigms of transport, magnetism, or superconductivity and by those aimed at creating and proving novel, unconventional phases and quantum states. Materials characterized by strong correlations, systems with spin-orbit interactions, or those characterize by strong orbital effects are some of the likely candidates.