# Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Faculty: E. Barnes; S. Cheng; S. Economou; K. Park; A. Petrescu; M. J. F. Pleimling; V. Scarola; U. C. Täuber

Emeritus Faculty: R. K. P. Zia

Affiliate Faculty: James Hanna; Sunny Jung

Professor Barnes’ research interests span a number of topics in quantum theory, including spin-based quantum computation, dynamical error suppression in quantum systems, driven non-equilibrium spin dynamics, non-equilibrium physics in 2D materials, many-body interactions in graphene, and novel topological materials such as topological insulators and Weyl semimetals. There is a particular emphasis on bridging formal, mathematical constructs with research that is closely connected to experiment.

Professor Cheng's research interests are in soft condensed matter systems, including both biological and synthetic polymers, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, and membranes. The group uses molecular dynamics simulations and theoretical models based on statistical mechanics to study phenomena including supramolecular and supramacromolecular self-assembly (for example, microtubules as shown in the left figure), nanoparticle self-assembly, evaporation, capillarity, wetting, adhesion, and friction.

Professor Economou’s interests are in quantum optics, condensed matter theory and quantum information with a range of physical systems, including semiconductor nanostructures, color centers (defects) in solids, superconducting qubits and photons. Topics of particular interest include spin physics in semiconductors, driven systems coupled to a quantum bath, quantum control and quantum logic gate design, spin-mechanics in condensed matter systems and protocols for entangled photonic states from solid-state emitters. The research style ranges from the development of formal theories with broad applicability to the interpretation of specific phenomena via close collaboration with experiment.

Prof. Kaplan's research interests are in theoretical soft matter and biological physics. In close connection to experiments, his group develops theories and simulations to elucidate the interplay between the material composition, dynamics, form, and emergent function in living systems and their synthetic analogs.

Professor Park's research interests are theoretical and computational studies of electronic, magnetic, and transport properties of spin-orbit-coupled nanostructures and their interactions with local and external environmental factors. A few recent examples include: electron-vibron coupling effects in electron tunneling via a single-molecule magnet, spin dynamics for magnetic nanoparticles, and topological insulators with non-magnetic or magnetic interfaces. For these calculations we use density-functional theory (DFT), Monte Carlo simulations, and effective model Hamiltonian with parameters obtained from DFT.

Prof. Petrescu's research interests are at the interface of condensed matter theory and quantum information science. He focuses on many-body physics, quantum phase transitions, and open quantum systems. He pays special attention to applications in quantum simulation and quantum computing, predominantly in experimental platforms such as ultracold atoms, trapped ions, and superconducting circuits. (Note: Prof. Petrescu will join Virginia Tech Physics in Fall 2021).

Professor Pleimling's research interests are in condensed matter and non-equilibrium systems. Specific research interests include: out-of-equilibrium dynamical behavior of complex systems; aging phenomena and dynamical scaling; stochastic population dynamics; statistical mechanics of flux lines in superconductors; disordered systems; critical phenomena in confined geometries. These systems are explored using the tools of statistical physics.

Research in Professor Scarola's group uses advances in computational techniques to connect quantum models and experiments on quantum condensed matter systems. Examples of recent topics of interest include: graphene, the fractional quantum Hall effect, composite fermions, quantum dots, quantum computing, and ultracold atoms in optical lattices.

Research interests in Professor Täuber's group are in soft condensed matter and non-equilibrium systems. Specific research interests include: structural phase transitions; dynamic critical behavior near equilibrium phase transitions; phase transitions and scaling in systems far from equilibrium; statistical mechanics of flux lines in superconductors; and applications of statistical physics to biological problems. The group employs Monte Carlo and Langevin molecular dynamics simulations to solve stochastic equations of motion, as well as field theory representations to construct perturbational treatments and renormalization group approaches that improve on mean-field approximations.

Professor Zia's research interests are in soft condensed matter and non-equilibrium systems. Specific research interests include: non-equilibrium statistical mechanics; phase transitions and critical phenomena; renormalization group analysis; Monte Carlo simulation techniques; stochastic differential equations and field theory; driven diffusive and reaction-diffusion systems; applications to, e.g., microbiological systems, population dynamics, adaptive networks, opinion formation and climate science.