Project Report

My research is in the field of condensed matter physics, which is the study of the physics of materials. In particular, I study the properties of strongly correlated electron materials. The properties of many common materials, such as metals, can be understood using theories that assume the material’s electrons do not interact with each other. In contrast, significant Coulomb interactions ("strong correlations") between electrons’ charges must be accounted for in order to understand the properties of strongly correlated electron materials. These strongly correlated materials often display quite exotic behaviors, including high-temperature superconductivity (conduction of electrical current with zero resistance below a critical transition temperature). Pertaining to NSF’s Broader Impacts criterion, devices using strongly correlated materials, such as novel solar cells and batteries, have great potential for helping us solve the energy challenge. I am studying the interplay between the electron-electron and electron-phonon interactions in strongly correlated materials. The atoms in a solid are arranged in a regular crystal structure, but at nonzero temperatures, they will vibrate about their equilibrium positions. These wavelike vibrations can then be quantized and treated as particles, phonons, just as light waves can be quantized and treated as particle-like photons. There is experimental evidence for a significant interaction between electrons and phonons in strongly correlated materials, however, there is not yet a complete theoretical description. Because analytical solutions to the problem of many interacting electrons and phonons are lacking, in my research I perform numerical simulations to study this problem. In particular, during my summer research I used quantum Monte Carlo simulations to study how the strength of the electron-phonon interaction influences the behavior of materials. We set up a collaboration for a longer term project that will involve combining my QMC results with the results of other numerical methods to help elucidate the effect of electron-phonon coupling on strongly correlated materials.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Nowadnick Elizabeth A
United States
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