Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics


Harry A. Atwater, Jr.

Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis

Professor Atwater's research focuses on quantum and nanophotonics, metamaterials and metasurfaces, artificial photosynthesis, two-dimensional materials, nano- and micro-structured photovoltaics, space solar power and plasmonics.

Paul M. Bellan

Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Bellan's research area is plasma physics with applications to fusion energy, solar physics, astrophysics, high altitude atmospheric phenomena, and the rings of Saturn. The research is mainly experimental but there is also substantial related theoretical effort. The research involves two major groups:(1) high power fast pulsed plasmas that simulate solar coronal loops, astrophysical jets, and have fusion applications and (2) water ice dusty plasmas relevant to noctilucent clouds and Saturn's rings.

Marco Bernardi

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Marco Bernardi specializes in theoretical/computational materials science and condensed matter physics. Marco's research group will investigate ideas at the intersection of solar energy conversion, ultra-fast science, excited state dynamics, and many-body electronic structure calculations. His recent research interests include energy conversion at subpicosecond time scale and nanomaterials for photovoltaics.

Chiara Daraio

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Daraio focuses on materials science, condensed matter physics, and solid mechanics.

Paul E. Dimotakis

John K. Northrop Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Dimotakis focuses on experimental and computational research on turbulent mixing and chemical reactions in subsonic and supersonic free-shear flows; hypersonic propulsion; mixing and the geometry of surfaces and interfaces in turbulence; scalar dispersion in turbulent flows; and related areas.

Space-Related Research

Recent space-related research has been in collaboration with JPL on remote sensing of the atmosphere from space and on the technical feasibility of an asteroid-return mission. Other space-related research has been on high-speed/hypersonic endoatmospheric flight and propulsion, and parachute dynamics for entry, descent, and landing.

Michael Elowitz

Professor of Biology and Bioengineering; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Executive Officer for Biological Engineering

Professor Elowitz works in the areas of systems and synthetic biology. His research seeks to understand fundamental design principles underlying the architecture and dynamics of gene circuits, including the functional role that stochasticity, or 'noise', plays in the cell.  To do so, he analyzes gene circuit behavior at the level of individual cells using time-lapse microscopy, designs and engineers synthetic genetic circuits that are sufficient to enable specific behaviors, and employs mathematical modeling.

Andrei Faraon

Professor of Applied Physics

Faraon's research interests are in solid state quantum optics and nano-photonics. Applications include on-chip optical signal processing at ultra-low power levels, energy efficient sensors, bio-photonics and quantum information processing.

Brent Fultz

Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics

Professor Fultz focuses on materials physics and materials chemistry, presently with two emphases. One is on the origin of entropy, as studied by neutron scattering and computation. This has expanded to other thermophysical properties. The second is on new materials for energy storage, especially H-storage materials.

William A. Goddard, III

Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics

Goddard has been a pioneer in developing methods for quantum mechanics (QM), force fields (FF), reactive dynamics (ReaxFF RD), electron dynamics (eFF), molecular dynamics (MD), and Monte Carlo (MC) predictions on chemical, catalytic, and biochemical materials systems

Current Activities focus on

Electrocatalysis and photo Electrocatalysis to convert water to H2 and O2 (solar fuels), reduce CO2 to organics and alcohols

Hydrogen fuel cells: cathode catalysts for reducing O2 and protons to water

Batteries: characterizing the solid-electrolyte interface’ new electrolytes

homogenous and heterogeneous  catalysis to activate CH4, alkanes, and N2 to valuable materials

Increasing ductility or strength of thermoelectrics, semiconductors, and ceramics by introducing twins or modifying grain boundaries

Multiscale reactive simulations to design and simulate improved materials (Materials Genomics)

Predicting structure and function of membranes bound proteins (particularly GPCRs)

In silico development of new pharma

Simulations of energetic materials and composites under extreme conditions

Viscosity modifiers for secondary oil recovery and for engine lubricants

Alireza Marandi

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Marandi’s research is focused on fundamental technological developments in Nonlinear Photonics through exploring the frontiers of ultrafast optics, optical frequency combs, quantum optics, optical information processing, mid-infrared photonics, and laser spectroscopy. His team works on realization of novel nonlinear photonic devices and systems for applications ranging from sensing to unconventional computing and information processing, as well as advancing the theoretical understanding of them.

Austin Minnich

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Minnich researches the physics and engineering of nanoscale heat transport. Nanostructured materials have novel thermal properties with applications in energy such as for thermoelectric materials, which convert heat directly to electricity. Minnich uses experimental techniques, including ultrafast optical experiments, to study transport at the length and time scales of the energy carriers themselves. These experiments measure properties of the energy carriers that are lost at macroscopic scales, allowing for a more complete understanding of nanoscale transport physics. Minnich also uses these results to design novel materials and thermal devices, such as more efficient thermoelectric materials and devices for thermal energy storage.

Stevan Nadj-Perge

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Stevan Nadj-Perge is interested in development of mesoscopic devices for applications in quantum information processing. Such devices also provide a playground for exploring exotic electronic states at (sub)-nano length scales. In his research, he is using scanning tunneling microscopy and electrical transport measurement techniques at cryogenic temperatures.

Oskar J. Painter

John G Braun Professor of Applied Physics and Physics; Fletcher Jones Foundation Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute

Professor Oskar Painter's research interests are in nanophotonics, quantum optics, and optomechanics for applications in precision measurement and quantum information science.

Rob Phillips

Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics

Professor Phillips focuses on physical biology of the cell: biophysical theory, single-molecule experiments, and single-cell experiments.

Michael L. Roukes

Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering

Professor Roukes's research focuses on nanobiotechnology, nanotechnology, nanoscale physics, nanoscale and molecular mechanics.

Axel Scherer

Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics

Professor Scherer's group focuses on the application of microfabrication to integrated microsystems. Recently, his group has specialized on developing sensors and diagnostic tools that can be used for low-cost point-of-care disease detection as well as precision health monitoring.

Professor Scherer has pioneered microcavity lasers and filters, and now his group works on integration of microfluidic chips with electronic, photonic and magnetic sensors. His group has also developed silicon nanophotonics and surface plasmon enhanced light emitting diodes, and has perfected the fabrication and characterization of ultra-small structures by lithography and electron microscopy.

Presently, his group works on integration of microfluidic chips with electronic, photonic and magnetic sensors. His group has also developed silicon nanophotonics and surface plasmon enhanced light emitting diodes, and has perfected the fabrication and characterization of ultra-small structures by lithography and electron microscopy.

Keith C. Schwab

Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Schwab's current focus is on the question of quantum physics at large length scales, what does it take to observe quantum phenomena with ordinary matter and the largest possible scale. The techniques used to probe this are quantum-limited measurements of motion, ultra-low temperature physics, nanotechnology and microfabrication techniques, and ultra-sensitivity microwave measurement. 

Sandra M. Troian

Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering

The Laboratory of Interfacial and Small Scale Transport {LIS2T} specializes in problems involving interface-mediated transport and "interface sculpting" in systems ranging in scale from microns to nanometers. Current topical areas include the study of free surface instabilities and self-assembling structures in liquefiable films triggered by thermal, electrical, Marangoni or magnetic field modulation; intrinsic 3D lithographic patterning of nanofilms; layering transitions and symmetry breaking in nanofilms; fluid interface modulation for micro-optic, photonic and field emission micropropulsion systems;  non-normality and unstable flows at low Reynolds number; biological flows governed by Marangoni forces; development of a universal slip condition for liquid on solid flows; and study of breakdown regimes in continuum flow vs molecular dynamics simulations. We complement full scale experimentation with analytic work, numerical computations and non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations to develop physical insight for theoretical advances as well as reliable design principles for application driven work.

Kerry J. Vahala

Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science

Professor Vahala studies science and applications relating to high-Q optical microcavities. His research group has pioneered a class of devices that attain Q factors of nearly 1 billion in a compact size. They are using these devices to study optical parametric oscillators, frequency microcombs, high-coherence Brillouin lasers, reference cavities, optical-based microwave sources, and optomechanical oscillators. 

Amnon Yariv

Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering

Professor Amnon Yariv's research focuses on the theoretical and technological underpinning of optical communication. Present projects include: new types of semiconductor lasers, optical phase-lock systems and coherent photonics, hybrid Si/III-V devices for lasers, detectors and modulation, "Slow" light propagation in artificial periodic dielectric waveguides.



Noel R. Corngold

Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Corngold focuses on nuclear reactor physics, theories of particle transport, and the physics of non-neutral plasmas.

James P. Eisenstein

Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Eisenstein focuses on experimental condensed-matter physics, particularly strongly correlated electrons in semiconductor heterostructures at low temperatures and high magnetic fields.

David L. Goodstein

Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor, Emeritus; Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Goodstein focuses on phases and phase transitions in two and three dimensional matter, superfluidity, science education, and scientific ethics.

Roy W. Gould

Simon Ramo Professor of Engineering, Emeritus

Wolfgang Knauss

Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus

Marc-Aurele Nicolet

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Nicolet focuses on solid-state device technology: thin-film processes and surface layer phenomena.