The focus of condensed matter and materials physics (CMMP) is understanding how underlying laws unfold in the physical world around us. A typical system consists of many individual particles or units which have coalesced into a medium with new, often surprising, properties. Here at Duke, we focus on two areas of condensed matter and materials physics: quantum phenomena in nanometer scale systems, and nonlinear and complex systems.
Nanophysics deals with the ability to control and probe systems on length scales larger than atoms but small enough that the averaging inherent in bulk properties has not yet occurred. Using this ability, entirely unanticipated phenomena can be uncovered on the one hand, and the microscopic basis of bulk phenomena can be probed on the other. Additional interest comes from the many links between nanophysics and nanotechnology, including how novel quantum collective behavior emerges from simple elements, connections to quantum information (entanglement), and the role of topological states in a variety of settings.
Research in nonlinear and complex aims at discovering and characterizing the collective behavior of complex systems, and to uncover the principles that connect the physics and logic of interactions between parts to the properties of the full system. This research area relies heavily on the concepts and language of nonlinear dynamics.