Carnegie Mellon University

Department of Physics

Mellon College of Science

Michael Widom

Professor of Physics
Professor of Materials Science & Engineering (Courtesy)

Condensed Matter Theory
Wean Hall 6305

assistant: Amanda Bodnar, 412-268-8367

lab website 

Prof. Mike Widom

Education & Professional Experience

PhD: University of Chicago (1983)
B.A.: Cornell University (1980)

Professional Societies:
Fellow, American Physical Society
Fellow, AAAS

Honors and Awards:
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 1991

Curriculum ViTA

Professor of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University, 1995–
Professor of Materials Science & Engineering (Courtesy), 2011–
Visiting Adjunct Professor, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, 2007–16
Visiting Professor, Université Paris VI (France), 1999
Visiting Professor, Université Paris VII (France), 1996
Visiting Professor, Université Paris Sud (France), 1993
Visiting Associate Professor, Cornell University, 1991–92
Associate Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 1990–94
Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 1985–90
Post-doctoral Research: Harvard University, 1983–85

Research Interests

My 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.

Selected Publications

H. Zhang, S. Yao, M. WidomPredicted phase diagram of boron-carbon-nitrogen, Phys. Rev. B 93, 144107 (2016)

M. Widom, M. Metall, Mat Trans A, Entropy and Diffuse Scattering: Comparison of NbTiVZr and CrMoNbV, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A 47, 3306 (2016)

M. Hutchinson, M. Widom, Enumeration of octagonal tilingsTheoretical Computer Science 598, 40 (2015)

Sanxi Yao, W.P. Huhn, M. Widom, Phase transitions of boron carbide: Pair interaction model of high carbon limitSolid State Sciences 47, 21 (2015) 

M. Hutchinson, M. Widom, Enumeration of octagonal tilingsTheoretical Computer Science 598, 40 (2015) 

Khandker Quader, Michael Widom, Lifshitz and other transitions in alkaline-earth 122 pnictides under pressurePhysical Review B 90, 144512 (2014) 

Qin Gao, Michael Widom, First-principles study of bismuth films at transition-metal grain boundariesPhysical Review B 90, 144102 (2014) 

William Paul Huhn, Michael Widom, Andrew M. Cheung, Gary J. Shiflet, S. Joseph Poon, John Lewandowski, First-principles calculation of elastic moduli of early-late transition metal alloysPhys. Rev. B 89, 104103 (2014)

R. Feenstra, N. Srivastava, Qin Gao, M. Widom, Bogdan Diaconescu, Taisuke Ohta, G. Kellogg, J. Robinson, I. Vlassiouk, Low-energy electron reflectivity from graphenePhys. Rev. B 87, 41406 (2013) 

Chang-You Lin, Michael Widom, Robert F. Sekerka, Mean-field density functional theory of a three-phase contact linePhys. Rev. E 85, 11120 (2012) 

Ben Sauerwine, Michael Widom, Kinetic Monte Carlo method applied to nucleic acid hairpin foldingPhys. Rev. E 84, 61912 (2011) 

P. Ganesh, M. Widom, Liquid-Liquid Transition in Supercooled Silicon Determined by First-Principles SimulationPhysical Review Letters 102, 75701 (2009) 

Zheng Yang, Ivet Bahar, Michael Widom, Vibrational Dynamics of Icosahedrally Symmetric Biomolecular Assemblies Compared with Predictions Based on Continuum ElasticityBiophysical Journal 96, 4438 (2009) 

M. Widom, M. Mihalkovič, Symmetry-broken crystal structure of elemental boron at low temperaturePhys. Rev. B 77, 64113 (2008) 

M. Widom, J. Lidmar, David Nelson, Soft modes near the buckling transition of icosahedral shellsPhys. Rev. E 76, 31911 (2007)

More Publications:
ORCID  Researcher ID