Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Our faculty and their current research interests are

Dr. Paulo Araujo  focuses on Near-Field, Raman and Photoluminescence spectroscopy of 1D-materials (single-, double- and triple-wall carbon nanotubes) and 2D-materials (such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides). He has also been working on the growth of graphene using the chemical vapor deposition technique.

Dr. Adam Hauser works on the fabrication and study of new electronic and magnetic materials. His group seeks to understand new physics that can be applied to the next generation of device technologies. Functional materials research is highly multidisciplinary, combining concepts of physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology to sit at the interface of scientific interest and future technology.

In addition, his group has expanded from its original focus of designing atomically perfect complex materials. Funded subgroups have emerged to solve national security (chemical weapons detection, secure time and frequency) or existential (protective armor) problems. In this rich research environment, the Hauser group seeks to make advances on an array of topics from spintronic materials to nanoparticle/polymer chemical sensors.

Dr. Patrick LeClair specializes in low temperature measurements and superconducting tunnel junctions.  His research group focuses on electrical transport in novel magnetic heterostructures (“spin electronics”), superconductivity, and electron tunneling phenomena. Dr. LeClair is currently building up a shared laboratory for electrical, magnetic, and optical characterization of novel materials and devices down to ultra-low temperatures (<400mK) and high magnetic fields (>7T). He is the author of over 25 publications and co-author of two patents.

Dr. Gary Mankey uses specialized measurement techniques available at national facilities, such as magnetic x-ray spectroscopies using synchotron radiation (at ANL, CAMD, SRC, and BNL) and neutron reflectometry and scattering (NIST and ORNL). Microwave-frequency FMR measurements are made with shorted-waveguide and coplanar-waveguide techniques. These collaborative projects are aimed at studying fundamental properties of materials of interest to the magnetic data storage industry.

Dr. Tim Mewes focuses on the investigation of the dynamic properties of magnetic materials. As part of his research, he is using and developing the new experimental technique of magnetic resonance force microscopy to characterize the properties of individual magnetic structures with sub-micron dimensions. His groups’s research interests include: magnetization relaxation mechanisms,  micromagnetics, dynamics of magnetic nanoparticles in solution,  spintransfer torque magnetic random access memory (STT-MRAM), spinlogic magnetic resonance force microscopy and  materials for microwave device applications.

Dr. Rainer Schad investigates the interplay between structure and magnetic/electric properties of multilayers. In particular, the understanding and exploitation of spin-dependent transport phenomena observed in magnetic multilayers (giant magnetoresistance or tunneling magnetoresistance) or semiconductor/magnet structures require an excellent control of the structural parameters. His research project includes preparation of spin-dependent transport structures (preferentially epitaxial) by various methods and their full analytical characterization. This leads to both a fundamental understanding of the physical interdependencies and, in cooperation with industrial partners, an improvement of devices based on such structures.

Experimental Condensed Matter work is facilitated by multiple clean rooms. Several sputtering systems are available for sample synthesis. Characterization equipment includes alternating-gradient and superconducting vibrating-sample magnetometers, as well as scanning and transmission electron microscopes, scanning atomic force and tunneling microscopes, and Auger and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

In addition to the faculty mentioned above, the following faculty are affiliated with the group:

Prof. Thejesh Bandi is leading the PNTF group. He is involved in the space clocks R & D for the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), time scales, precision frequency and time synchronization schemes and related applications. He has interests in compact lasers and laser manipulation of atoms and ions, including the trapping and manipulating schemes, interferometric studies and atomic magnetometers.

If you are a student (undergraduate or graduate) with a possible interest in condensed matter experiment we would be glad to hear from you via e-mail or otherwise. Please contact one of the physicists above or email physgrad@ua.edu for information about graduate study. Information about our graduate program is also available on our website.