Trapping Light and Other Physics Adventures
Babak Seradjeh (College of Arts & Sciences)
The biggest mysteries of the universe are not hiding only in faraway galaxies or among subatomic particles. Instead, they may be in your hand, literally, as you hold a pencil. When you use that pencil to draw a line on a sheet of paper, you are creating your own sample of "graphene," which has been hailed as a wonder material and garnered its discoverers the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. For example, electrons in graphene move as if they have no mass, just like light. In recent years, graphene and many other materials have been shown to host many other exotic physics previously thought to only exist either in the large-scale fabric of cosmos or in the subatomic space between elementary particles. This is an exciting era in the science that studies such physics in everyday materials, known as condensed matter physics. My research is focused on the theoretical study and understanding of stable exotic phases that are realized when electrons are subjected to external periodic forces, such as strong lasers. This is a bit like playing ping pong with light to form novel arrangements. I am also interested in demonstrating novel uses of these materials that could lead to breakthrough technologies and solve substantial computational, economic, or social problems.
Technology or Computational Component
As an undergraduate student in my group, you will become familiar with some concepts and tools used in theoretical research to understand, explain, and suggest new experimental work. These include numerical techniques, mathematical modeling, and technological applications. You will work on simple, "toy" problems, to gradually implement numerical methods that help us model and understand more complex systems. You will learn how to model the behavior of the system and code to predict their evolution.