Condensed Matter Experiment-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Faculty: Luc Berger (Emeritus)
Randall Feenstra
Stephen Garoff
Sara Majetich
Robert Schumacher (Emeritus)
Robert Suter
Kristina Woods

Group Overview

In our research we investigate the structure and properties of matter on length scales from sub-nanometer to the macroscopic. Focusing on materials ranging from quantum dots and thin films with dimensions of nanometers to macroscopic solid and fluid systems, we investigate atomic structure, molecular conformation, the structure of electronic states, and magnetism. Our work ranges from the basic to the applied and frequently has an interdisciplinary character. Extensive simulations are often employed to provide detailed understanding of the experimental data.

We use many different tools and techniques, including x-ray and neutron scattering, optical microscopy, THz spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopies, and calorimetry. Moreover, the extensive facilities of the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Biological Sciences are available to us. Some of our work uses national facilities for synchrotron x-ray and neutron scattering.

Member Research Thrusts

FeenstraFeenstra's group studies the atomic arrangement of semiconductor surfaces and nanostructures, employing tools such as scanning tunneling microscopy and low-energy electron microscopy. The goal of the work is to understand the detailed formation of the structures on the atomic scale, thus enabling the preparation of high quality materials for application in electronic devices.

Garoff:  The goal of the Interfacial Physics Group is to build an understanding of interfacial phenomena on the molecular, microscopic and macroscopic levels. Our research presently focuses on wetting, friction, and colloidal forces and draws on a broad range of scientific phenomena such as random field effects, nonequilibrium states, hydrodynamics, and noise in hysteretic systems.

Majetich:  The research in Majetich's group focuses on magnetic nanoparticles that have very uniform size distributions. The formation of the particles is studied along with their fundamental behavior, and applications of the nanoparticles in data storage media, permanent magnets, and biomedicine are investigated.

Suter:  Suter's group has, in collaboration with scientists at the Advanced Photon Source, developed a new, high energy synchrotron  x-ray technique that allows measurement of microstructural features deep inside of bulk materials. Being non-destructive, the technique allows some of the first direct observations of the response of materials to thermal and/or mechanical treatments. A variety of basic (for example, grain growth and phase transformations) and applied (for example, response of industrial materials to strain) problems will be addressed with this new capability. Data analysis is carried out at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and on a dedicated cluster in the Physics Department.

Woods:  The research in Woods' group is aimed at developing a deeper understanding about the fast, low frequency microscopic interactions taking place in polymer and biopolymer systems that are important during the onset of many biological and chemical processes. The group focuses on the development of novel optical and imaging methods utilizing infrared light to address fundamental questions regarding the molecular level processes of interest.