Condensed Matter physicists study matter in its nearly unlimited variety of condensed states from liquids to crystalline solids, from thin films to fabricated or chemically-synthesized nanostructures, from quantum Hall electron gases to superconductors, from carbon nanotubes to liquid crystals, and from amorphous structures to complex fluids. We seek both to clarify the fundamental issues behind the striking properties of these systems, and to illuminate their potential for useful application in many areas from electronics to biology and medicine. Condensed matter physics underlies many key devices of information technology, including the transistor, the solid-state laser, optical fiber, magnetic storage media, the liquid crystal display.
Much of the explosive growth in Condensed Matter Physics in the last decade has come at the mutual boundaries of physics, chemistry, and materials science. Recently in ever more dramatic ways, this intellectual cross-fertilization is producing key discoveries at the convergence of these fields and biology. The Penn Condensed Matter Physicists helped to create this fruitful trend, and many of our projects are highly interdisciplinary in nature. We work as part of the interdisciplinary Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) and the Nano-Bio Interface Center (NBIC). Linked to these centers are the state of the art LRSM/MRSEC facilities, the NBIC/NSEC facilities, and the Penn Regional Nanotechnology Facility. Graduate students who have an interest in nanoscience can apply for graduate fellowships to the NSF-funded Penn-Drexel IGERT program. Additional opportunities for faculty and students are provided by the state-funded Nanotechnology Institute and the Institute of Medicine and Engineering.
Penn has a long and successful history of forefront research in condensed matter physics with seminal contributions to superconductivity, polymer physics, liquid crystals, colloidal physics, nanoscience, and many other fields. There are currently 7 experimentalists and 8 theorists pursuing research in many areas of condensed matter. For many exciting new developments in our work, see our department news page.