Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Professor Bernardi Wins AFOSR Young Investigator Award


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has won a 2017 Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of this program are: to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering. Professor Bernardi received the award for his proposal entitled, “Ab Initio Electron-Defect and Electron-Phonon Scattering for Understanding and Designing High-Mobility Semiconductors and Oxides.” [AFOSR Press Release]

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"Hot" Electrons Move Faster Than Expected


For the first time, Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have been able to directly observe the ultrafast motion of electrons immediately after they are excited with a laser—and found that these electrons diffuse into their surroundings much faster and farther than previously expected. "Our work shows the existence of a fast transient that lasts for a few hundred picoseconds, during which electrons move much faster than their room-temperature speed, implying that they can cover longer distances in a given time when manipulated with lasers," says Professor Bernardi. "This non-equilibrium behavior could be employed in novel electronic, optoelectronic, and renewable energy devices, as well as to uncover new fundamental physics." [Caltech story]

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Microscopic Materials


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, is fascinated by the interactions of quasiparticles and how they give rise to the world around us. He explains, “I'm most excited about the emphasis on fundamental science here. People can be really tempted by "flashy" science or experiments on hot topics. But to compute what I'm trying to look at, we have to first build our understanding on simple experiments and materials—boring things—before we are able to tackle materials at the frontier of condensed matter research.” [Interview with Prof. Bernardi]

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Professor Bernardi Wins the Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has won the 2015 Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award. The award is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding computational work in condensed-matter, materials, or nanoscience research involving electronic structure calculations. Professor Bernardi has received it for his research in first principles electronic structure calculations of the ultrafast dynamics of excited electrons in materials. His research is addressing the question of “how does an excited electron lose its energy?” which is central in a variety of fields ranging from condensed matter physics to electrical engineering and energy. Bernardi has developed and applied calculations to study the dynamics of out-of-equilibrium charge carriers, also known as hot carriers, in semiconductors and metals. [Learn more]

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