Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

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.

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. Jamileh Beik Mohammadi works in the area of magnetism and spintronics. She utilizes experimental methods and theoretical modeling to design and characterize magnetic thin films and multilayers. The application of these studies is in spintronic devices such as magnetic sensors in GPS systems and magnetic random-access memories. Her research aims to exploit the magnetic properties of materials used in these devices, to understand the underlying physics and improve their performance.

Dr. Adam Hauser works on the fabrication and study of new electronic and magnetic materials. His group seeks to understand how complex materials order at the atomic level, and how to make designer materials. Functional materials research is highly multidisciplinary, combining concepts of physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology. In addition, his group has expanded to include research in precision time and frequency, an important technology that silently underpins much of human society.

Dr. Marzieh Kavand works on spin interactions and spin dynamics on small ensemble of molecules, thin film materials and quantum devices for applications in quantum sensing and quantum processing to study novel quantum phenomena in quantum materials and devices.

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. Yi Lin focuses on studying the behavior of electrons in the equilibrium or excited phases of materials. He directly visualizes the electronic band structure of materials using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES). He combines strong laser pulses with pump-probe techniques to induce ultrafast, light-driven, and metastable phases in materials with exotic dimensionality, topology, conductivity, and order. His research has an overarching mission: to discover new materials and reveal hidden modes of light-matter interactions, aiming to guide next-generation energy-harvesting, optoelectronic, and sensing devices. For his group at UA, he seeks to synergize both in-house facilities and user facilities at national labs to conduct interdisciplinary research. This includes developing photonics-integrated photoemission spectroscopy (π-ARPES) to explore strong light-matter interactions, investigating light-switchable materials and mechanisms to achieve ultrafast sensing and communication, and fabricating optically activable periodic defects in 2D materials to advance quantum science and technology.

Affiliated faculty

Prof. Thejesh Bandi is leading the Precision Navigation, Time and Frequency (PNTF) group. He is involved in 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.

Adjunct and Emeritus faculty

In addition to the faculty mentioned above, the following faculty are (or were) associated with the group. They do not supervise students:

Former faculty (recently moved)

Dr. Tim Mewes focused on the investigation of the dynamic properties of magnetic materials while he was at UA. As part of his research, he was 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 group’s research interests included: 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.

Emeritus Faculty

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. 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.

Contact Us

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.