Condensed Matter Seminar

semester, 2018

Wednesday, January 17th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Jeff Derby (Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, U of M)
Subject: The synergy of modeling and novel experiments for melt crystal growth research

Our understanding of crystal growth fundamentals and processes are advanced when the synergy between mathematical models and novel experiments is exploited. We present recent examples of how modeling and experiments together have enabled the identification of fundamental mechanisms important during the growth of bulk crystals from the melt.

We first discuss how microgravity experiments, carried out via sounding rockets, motivated a reexamination of classical theories for foreign particle engulfment during crystal growth. Via the development and application of rigorous numerical models, we were able, for the first time in over a decade of research on this system, to quantitatively describe data on the engulfment of SiC (silicon carbide) particles during the growth of crystalline silicon. Moreover, model results identified previously unascertained mechanisms responsible for the behavior of this system and, via this insight, provided insight for analytical derivation of a new scaling law for the dependence of critical engulfment velocity on particle size.

We finish with an overview of exciting, new research that employs neutron imaging to directly “see,” in operando, the bulk growth of scintillator crystals during a gradient-freeze process. We argue that the synergies of “seeing” via both models and neutron imaging will improve our fundamental understanding and provide for a closed-loop approach for optimizing the growth of large, single crystals from the melt.

This research was supported in part by NASA NNX10AR70G, DOE/NNSA DE-NA0002514, DOE/NNSA/DNN R&D (LBNL subcontract AC0205CH11231); no official endorsement should be inferred.

Faculty Host: Paul Crowell

Wednesday, January 24th 2018
1:30 pm:
Speaker: Fiona Burnell (University of Minnesota)
Subject: Signatures of gapless boundary modes in Kitaev spin liquids

Recent progress in synthesizing insulators with a new type of dominant spin-exchange interaction, known as the Kitaev interaction, has opened new possibilities for experimentally realizing spin liquid compounds. Among the distinctive features of these spin liquids is the possibility that they can harbour protected gapless boundary modes which carry spin but not charge. This possibility raises a challenge of how best to detect these chargeless boundary modes. I will discuss two possibilities — Raman scattering and the heat capacity — as well as what such measurements can reveal about the bulk phase.

Faculty Host: Paul Crowell

Wednesday, January 31st 2018
1:30 pm:
Speaker: Sergey Frolov, University of Pittsburgh
Subject: Quantum dot chains as emulators of topological superconductors

Tunneling spectroscopy measurements on one-dimensional superconducting hybrid materials have revealed signatures of Majorana fermions which are the edge states of a bulk topological superconducting phase. We couple strong spin-orbit semiconductor InSb nanowires to conventional superconductors (NbTiN, Al) to obtain additional signatures of Majorana fermions and to explore the magnetic-field driven topological phase transition. Specifically, we map out the phase diagram of the topological phase in the space of Zeeman energy and chemical potential, and investigate the apparent closing and re-opening of the superconducting gap. We investigate how the topological superconducting phase would manifest in finite size systems, by electrostatically splitting the wire into segments of varied length. By chaining up several segments of a nanowire, we are realizing a quantum simulator of the Kitaev chain with tunable on-site energies and couplings between the sites, a step towards quantum simulation with semiconductor nanostructures.

Faculty Host: Vlad Pribiag

Wednesday, February 7th 2018
1:30 pm:
Speaker: Cristian Batista, University of Tennessee
Subject: Pairing from strong repulsion in the triangular lattice Hubbard model

The generation of an effective attraction between electrons out of the bare Coulomb repulsion is a long sought-after goal of the condensed matter community. In this talk I will introduce a pairing mechanism between holes in the dilute limit of doped frustrated Mott insulators. We will see that magnons provide a strong glue in the infinitely repulsive limit of the triangular lattice Hubbard model. The strongly attractive hole-magnon interaction is a manifestation of a “counter-Nagaoka” theorem: the single-hole kinetic energy is minimized for an antiferromagnetically ordered state. We will demonstrate that the resulting hole-magnon attraction is strong enough to bind a second hole and to form a hole-hole-magnon three-body bound state. Remarkably, the binding energy of this “composite Cooper pair” is rather strong, while its effective mass still has a moderate value, giving rise to relatively high transition temperature for superconductivity in the dilute limit. I will discuss a few interesting consequences of this new mechanism for unconventional superconductivity.

Work done in collaboration with Shangshun Zhang (University of Tennessee) and Wei Zhu (Los Alamos National Laboratory).

Faculty Host: Natalia Perkins

Wednesday, February 14th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Damjan Pelc (University of Minnesota)
Subject: Inhomogeneous charge localization in the cuprates

I will discuss new experimental results and insights into the physics of cuprate high-temperature superconductors, providing an overarching framework for understanding these materials.
Motivated by transport measurements, I will consider an inhomogeneous Mott-like (de)localization model wherein exactly one hole per copper-oxygen unit is gradually delocalized with increasing doping and temperature. The model comprehensively captures pivotal unconventional experimental results, including the temperature and doping dependence of the pseudogap phenomenon, the strange-metal linear temperature dependence of the planar resistivity, and the doping dependence of the superfluid density. The simple model greatly demystifies the cuprate phase diagram, and points to a local superconducting pairing mechanism involving the (de)localized hole. The spatial inhomogeneity of the localization gap is thus expected to cause a distribution of superconducting gaps as well, leading to superconducting percolation. Accordingly, for several representative cuprates the superconducting diamagnetism, nonlinear conductivity, and paraconductivity exhibit an unusual temperature dependence above Tc that is captured by a simple percolation model. The results show that that intrinsic, universal gap inhomogeneity is highly relevant to understanding the properties of the cuprates.

Faculty Host: Paul Crowell

Wednesday, February 21st 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Erez Berg (U of Chicago)
Subject: Transport beyond the quasiparticle picture: a view from the large-N limit

In normal metals, the electron's mean free path is much larger than its wavelength, allowing a semiclassical treatment of transport. Conversely, whenever scattering is so strong that the mean free path becomes comparable to the electron's wavelength, the concept of a quasiparticle becomes ill defined, and a new theoretical framework is needed. I will introduce a family of lattice models for interacting electrons that can be solved exactly in the limit of a large number of interacting electron flavors and/or phonon modes. Depending on details, these models exhibit either "resistivity saturation" at high temperatures to a value of the order of the quantum of resistance, or "bad metallic behavior" where the resistivity grows without bound with increasing temperature. Translationally invariant higher-dimensional generalizations of the Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev model can capture a variety of phenomena arising purely from electron-electron interactions, including local criticality, non-Fermi liquid, and marginal Fermi liquid behavior. I will describe the implications of these results for the problem of non-quasiparticle transport at large, local quantum criticality, and fundamental bounds on dissipation rates in quantum systems.

Faculty Host: Rafael Fernandes

Wednesday, February 28th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Various speakers
Subject: APS March Meeting Practice Talks

Wednesday, March 7th 2018
1:30 pm:
No Seminar this week. APS March Meeting.

Wednesday, March 21st 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Li He, University of Minnesota
Subject: Optomechanical measurement of photon spin angular momentum and optical torque in integrated photonic devices
This week's sack lunch talk will be on Wed. at the usual CM seminar time and place

Photons carry spin angular momentum when circularly or elliptically polarized. During light-matter interaction, transfer of angular momentum induces optical torque. Here, we demonstrate the measurement of the spin angular momentum of photons propagating in a silicon waveguide and the use of optical torque to actuate rotational motion of an optomechanical device. We show that the sign and magnitude of the optical torque are determined by the photon polarization states that are synthesized on the chip. Our study reveals the mechanical effect of photon’s polarization degree of freedom and demonstrates its control in integrated photonic devices.

Faculty Host: Paul Crowell

Tuesday, March 27th 2018
Speaker: Michael Fogler, University of California, San Diego
Subject: Hyperbolic waves in Nature: from nano to Ter(r)a

Waves with a hyperbolic dispersion relation are exotic yet surprisingly widespread phenomena that occur in anisotropic media with internal resonances. Such media have been investigated in numerous fields, ranging from condensed matter physics to plasma physics to optics to fluid dynamics and geophysics. Hyperbolic waves can be found in magnetic materials, in both usual and topological insulators, in superconductors, as well as in our oceans, beaches, atmosphere, and space. The characteristic lengths and frequencies of such waves vary vastly, from atomic to cosmic. However, they all exhibit certain common attributes, such as strict directionality, diverging density of states, and anomalous reflection. This talk will contain a primer on hyperbolic materials, a recipe for the death ray, and a report on our nano-optics studies of hyperbolic phonon-polaritons in new quasi-2D materials such as graphene and hexagonal boron nitride.


1. L. V. Brown et al, “Nanoscale Mapping and Spectroscopy of Nonradiative Hyperbolic Modes in Hexagonal Boron Nitride Nanostructures,” Nano Lett. 18, 1628 (2018).
2. A. J. Giles et al., "Imaging of Anomalous Internal Reflections of Hyperbolic Phonon-Polaritons in Hexagonal Boron Nitride," Nano Lett. 16, 3858 (2016).
3. S. Dai et al., “Subdiffractional focusing and guiding of polaritonic rays in a natural hyperbolic material,” Nature Comms 6, 6963 (2015).
4. S. Dai et al., “Tunable Phonon Polaritons in Atomically Thin van der Waals Crystals of Boron Nitride”, Science 343, 1125 (2014).

Faculty Host: Boris Shklovskii

Wednesday, March 28th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Paul Canfield (Iowa State)
Subject: Synthesis as the Heart of New Materials Physics

Design, discovery, growth and characterization of novel materials is at the heart of New Materials Physics. One of the key steps is deciding what materials to study or try to grow. In this talk I will try to enunciate and elaborate the motivations for making/studying specific compounds. Many examples from current research will be touched upon and discussed. Humor of all types will be used to lighten the load and make the time fly by.

Faculty Host: Martin Greven

Wednesday, April 4th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Sung-Sik Lee (Perimeter Institute)
Subject: TBD
Faculty Host: Andrey Chubukov

Wednesday, April 11th 2018
1:25 pm:
Speaker: Xiaojia Wang (University of Minnesota)
Subject: TBD
Faculty Host: Paul Crowell

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