CM/BIO/ECE Seminars

The combined Condensed Matter/Biological Physics/Electrical and Computer Engineering Seminars take place every Wednesday at 4 PM in the Physics Library (rm 223A, Physics Bldg.)

Spring 2021
Date Speaker/Title/Abstract
3/3/21 Smitha Vishveshwara, UIUC
Hunting for topological phases amidst Hofstadter butterflies and disordered landscapes

In this talk, I will discuss rich topological behavior in two related models – the Majorana wire and a Su-Schrieffer-Heeger ladder- in the presence of potential energy landscapes. An introduction of the two models and of techniques that directly provide information on edge-state properties will form the starting point for obtaining topological phase diagrams in these models. In the case of these systems subject to a quasiperiodic potential, a beautiful topological phase diagram emerges mimicking Hofstadter’s butterfly patterns. In the case of disordered potential landscapes, Anderson localization physics informs the behavior of the disordered topological phase diagram.  Finally, I will discuss the possible implementation of this physics in a variety of experimental systems, including solid state, cold atomic and electro-mechanical settings. 

2/17/21 Julia Medvedeva, University of Missouri S&T
Fundamentals of Amorphous Oxide Semiconductors

Amorphous oxide semiconductors (AOS)—ternary or quaternary oxides of post-transition metals—have attracted a lot of attention due to high carrier mobility which is an order of magnitude larger than that of amorphous silicon (a-Si:H). Unlike Si-based semiconductors, AOS exhibit optical, electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties that are comparable or even superior to those possessed by their crystalline counterparts. However, the properties of AOS are extremely sensitive to deposition conditions, oxygen stoichiometry, and metal composition, rendering the available research data inconsistent or hard to reproduce, thus, hampering further progress. Moreover, owing to the weak metal-oxygen bonding as well as many degrees of freedom in disordered materials, defects in AOS have the structural, thermal, and electronic characteristics that differ fundamentally from those in the crystalline transparent conducting oxides.

To navigate the large parameter space for AOS materials, computationally-intensive ab-initio Molecular Dynamics simulations followed by comprehensive structural analysis and accurate Density-Functional calculations, are performed for several AOS families. Integrated with systematic experimental measurements, the results provide microscopic understanding of complex relationships between the morphology, carrier generation, and electron transport across the crystalline-amorphous transition and help derive versatile design principles for next-generation transparent amorphous semiconductors with a combination of properties not achievable in Si-based architectures.

2/10/21 Maria Mills, MU Physics
Combined Magnetic Tweezers-TIRF microscopy for studying DNA-protein interactions

Magnetic tweezers allow the user to apply force and torque to magnetic beads attached to single DNA molecules, and to observe the resulting changes in DNA extension. This technique, however, is limited to measuring a single degree of freedom: the distance between the magnetic bead and the microscope slide surface. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy enables visualization of single molecules that have been tagged with fluorescent dyes. By combining TIRF microscopy and magnetic tweezers, we can simultaneously manipulate DNA molecules and use fluorescence to detect additional parameters, such as the presence of a protein or orthogonal changes in the DNA structure. We have recently installed a custom MT-TIRF instrument. In this talk I will discuss the instrument design, the physics underlying the two techniques, and how we plan to utilize them together to extract more information from our systems of interest.

2/3/21 Dmytro Pesin, University of Virginia
Manifestations of band geometry in linear and nonlinear transport

I will describe how the geometry of the band structure of metals manifests itself in their optical and transport properties. I particular, I will show that the natural optical activity of metals, equivalent to the so-called dynamic chiral magnetic effect, stems from the intrinsic magnetic moments of quasiparticles, and demonstrate that these magnetic moments can be of both intrinsic and extrinsic origin. I will then discuss optical Hall response of chiral crystals in the presence of a DC transport current – the gyrotropic Hall effect – and show that it is related to the Berry curvature dipole. The latter fact makes the gyrotropic Hall effect a diagnostic tool for topological properties of three-dimensional chiral metals. If time permits, I will discuss how to observe the chiral magnetic effect in Weyl semimetals using the heating effect of a transport electric field.