EducationPh.D., University of Chicago
Professor Widom's research focuses on theoretical modeling of novel materials in condensed matter and biological physics settings. Methods of statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and computer simulation are used to investigate structure, stability and properties of these materials.
Metals in noncrystalline (nonperiodic) structures are a major focus of effort, including: Liquid metals, for example the liquid-liquid transition in supercooled silicon); Metallic glass es, which are multi-component alloys that freeze into a solid while maintaining a liquid-like structure; Quasicrystals, which are partially ordered and highly symmetric structures that are spatially quasiperiodic. These problems are addressed using first-principles total energy calculation coupled with statistical mechanics to model entire ensembles of probable structures.
Biological physics is the second major focus, including two specific projects. Virus capsids are highly symmetric protein shells that protect the viral genome. Methods of continuum mechanics and symmetry analysis are applied to identify soft modes of deformation. The RNA molecule plays many roles at the heart of gene expression, some of which such as microRNAs and riboswitches have only recently been discovered. A characteristic feature of RNA is its highly convoluted secondary structure, which are analyzed from both thermodynamic and kinetic points of view.
- R. M. Feenstra, N. Srivastava, Qin Gao, M. Widom, Bogdan Diaconescu, Taisuke Ohta, G. L. Kellogg, J. T. Robinson, I. V. Vlassiouk, Low-energy electron reflectivity from graphene, Physical Review B 87, 041406 (2013)
- Chang-You Lin, Michael Widom, Robert F. Sekerka, Mean-field density functional theory of a three-phase contact line, Physical Review E 85, 011120 (2012)
- Ben Sauerwine, Michael Widom, Kinetic Monte Carlo method applied to nucleic acid hairpin folding, Physical Review E 84, 061912 (2011)
- P. Ganesh, M. Widom, Liquid-Liquid Transition in Supercooled Silicon Determined by First-Principles Simulation, Physical Review Letters 102, 075701 (2009)
- Zheng Yang, Ivet Bahar, Michael Widom, Vibrational Dynamics of Icosahedrally Symmetric Biomolecular Assemblies Compared with Predictions Based on Continuum Elasticity, Biophysical Journal 96, 4438 (2009)
- M. Widom, M. Mihalkovič, Symmetry-broken crystal structure of elemental boron at low temperature, Physical Review B 77, 064113 (2008)
- M. Widom, J. Lidmar, David Nelson, Soft modes near the buckling transition of icosahedral shells, Physical Review E 76, 031911 (2007)
- Eric Cockayne, Mike Widom, Ternary Model of an Al-Cu-Co Decagonal Quasicrystal, Physical Review Letters 81, 598 (1998)
- M. Widom, Bethe ansatz solution of the square-triangle random tiling model, Physical Review Letters 70, 2094 (1993)