Quantum Materials & Nanoscience

Columbia’s nanoengineers, chemists, and condensed matter scientists study the quantum nature of matter, including optical properties, electron transport capabilities, and other quantum characteristics. Our particular focus is on atom-thin van der Waals materials, which can be stacked, twisted, and subjected to external stimuli to produce novel effects.

We are developing new materials, establishing cleaner fabrication and more perfect assembly techniques, and exploring how different quantum properties can be controlled on demand. Our goal is to advance our fundamental understanding of quantum materials and to incorporate them into novel quantum hardware.

Key Faculty

Katayun Barmak

Macro-, Micro-, and Nano-scale Material Synthesis, Structure, and Phase Transformations

Dmitri Basov

Nano-optics of Quantum Materials

Simon Billinge

Broken Local Symmetries, Anharmonicity, and Electron-Phonon Interactions

Louis Brus

Experimental Chemical Physics and Nanoscience

Cory Dean

Electronic Properties of Quantum Materials

Aravind Devarakonda

Synthesizing Quantum Materials Hosting Novel Electronic Ground States

James Hone

2D Material Synthesis and Nano-fabrication of Novel Devices

Chris Marianetti

Computation of Material Behavior from the First-principles of Quantum Mechanics

Szabolcs Marka

Architecture and Programming of Quantum Devices

James McIver

Femtosecond Science on a Chip

Colin Nuckolls

Superatoms in Materials Science

Jonathan Owen

Inorganic Chemistry of Semiconductor and Metal Nanocrystals

Abhay Pasupathy

2D Materials, Quantum Phenomena, and Scanning Tunnel Microscopy

Xavier Roy

Design and Synthesis of Molecular Building Blocks for Nanoelectronics

James Schuck

Optically Probing Quantum Properties of Nanoscale Environments

Yasumoto Uemura

MuSR and Phenomenology of Unconventional Superconductors and Quantum Magnets

Xiaoyang Zhu

Quasiparticle Dynamics and Photophysics in Quantum Materials

Latest News & Research

A team of researchers from Columbia University, City University of New York, the University of Central Florida (UCF), and Tohoku University and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, have directly observed a rare quantum effect that produces a repeating butterfly-shaped energy spectrum, confirming the longstanding prediction of this quantum fractal energy structure called Hofstadter’s butterfly. The study, which focused on moiré-patterned graphene, is published in the May 15, 2013, Advance Online Publication (AOP) of Nature.

Researchers discover that electrons mimic light in graphene, confirming a 2007 prediction – their finding may enable new low power electronics and lead to new experimental probes.

When it comes to conducting ultrafine research on a nanoscale, even one speck of dust could short out a piece of microelectronics operating at the atomic level.

Researchers at Columbia Engineering, experts at manipulating matter at the nanoscale, have made an important breakthrough in physics and materials science, recently reported in Nature Nanotechnology. Working with colleagues from Princeton and Purdue Universities and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, the team has engineered “artificial graphene” by recreating, for the first time, the electronic structure of graphene in a semiconductor device.

A Columbia University-led international team of researchers has developed a technique to manipulate the electrical conductivity of graphene with compression, bringing the material one step closer to being a viable semiconductor for use in today’s electronic devices.

In a highly interdisciplinary collaboration, researchers across Columbia EngineeringColumbia University Department of Chemistry, Shanghai Normal University, and the University of Copenhagen have upended conventional wisdom, synthesizing the first molecule capable of insulating at the nanometer scale more effectively than a vacuum barrier. 

A Columbia University-led team has developed a new method to finely tune adjacent layers of graphene—honeycomb-like, 2D sheets of carbon atoms—to induce superconductivity. Their research provides new insights into the physics underlying this material’s intriguing characteristics. 

Superconductivity, magnetism, and other forms of interacting electron behavior—bilayers of graphene seem to have it all. Researchers are now using this pristine material to unlock the secrets of interacting-electron phenomena with unprecedented control and tunability

Dmitri Basov, Higgins Professor of Physics at Columbia University, has been awarded the Vannever Bush Faculty Fellowship for 2019. The honor, which is one of the U.S. Department of Defense’s most prestigious awards, aims to foster research that probes the limits of today's technologies and has potential for transformative impact.

Researchers from Brown and Columbia Universities have demonstrated previously unknown states of matter that arise in double-layer stacks of graphene, a two-dimensional nanomaterial. These new states, known as the fractional quantum Hall effect, arise from the complex interactions of electrons both within and across graphene layers.

Cory Dean, Professor of Condensed Matter Physics, and Timothy Berkelbach, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, have been named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Quantum materials physicist Cory Dean is quoted in a Science news story about recent work showing superconductivity in trilayer graphene. 

Using Columbia’s nano facilities, over four hundred researchers have achieved nearly three hundred inventions and patents.

Working together with the Flatiron Institute in New York City and the Max Planck Society in Germany, the University will harness quantum materials for wider applications and technologies.

Columbia researchers invent a new way to tune the properties of 2D materials by adjusting the twist angle between them; technology enables the development of nanoelectromechanical sensors with applications in astronomy, medicine, search and rescue, and more.

Columbia University joins the Flatiron Institute and Germany’s Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science to establish the Max Planck - New York City Center for Nonequilibrium Quantum Phenomena

Physics Today covers advances in magic angle twisted graphene, including work from Columbia Physicist Cory Dean

Researchers from Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego were able to re-purpose techniques from astrophysics to better visualize nano-scale materials instead of galactic scale astronomical phenomena.

A “multi-messenger” approach that was first employed to study astrophysical phenomena such as black hole mergers can also bring insights to the ultra-small realm of quantum physics, says researchers at Columbia University 

Researchers use atomically thin materials—1/100,000 the size of a human hair—to manipulate the phase of light without changing its amplitude, at extremely low power loss; could enable applications such as LIDAR, phased arrays, optical switching, and quantum and optical neural networks

Columbia Chemist David Reichman talks to Quanta Magazine about the mysteries of glass

Dmitri Basov will use the award to develop experimental techniques that could lead to revolutionary applications in electronics, computing energy technology and medical devices.

Columbia University researchers report that they have observed a quantum fluid known as the fractional quantum Hall states (FQHS), one of the most delicate phases of matter, for the first time in a monolayer 2D semiconductor. 

Using sophisticated optical microscopy techniques, Columbia engineers are first to demonstrate that sufficient strain in 2D material can yield single-photon emitters, key to quantum technologies and future photonic circuitry

Twisting a monolayer and a bilayer sheet of graphene into a three-layer structure leads to new quantum mechanical states.

Columbia researchers have successfully re-competed for the highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Columbia’s MRSEC, the Center for Precision-Assembled Quantum Materials (PAQM), will receive $18 million over the next six years to support cutting-edge research into new quantum materials, in which clear effects of quantum mechanics emerge in macroscopic systems.

Researchers at Columbia Engineering report today that they have developed the first nanomaterial that demonstrates "photon avalanching," a process that is unrivaled in its combination of extreme nonlinear optical behavior and efficiency. 

Columbia researchers discover a new way to program light on an ultra-small scale

Columbia researchers engineer first technique to exploit the tunable symmetry of 2D materials for nonlinear optical applications, including laser, optical spectroscopy, imaging, and metrology systems, as well as next-generation optical quantum information processing and computing

Cory Dean is quoted in Quanta about new results regarding superconductivity 

Physics World covers a recent Nature publication from the Basov Lab. 

The pair will focus on an emerging field known as “twistronics.”

In search of the mysterious transition between metallic and insulating states of matter, Columbia researchers find signatures of quantum criticality in a unique material.

The results, published in Nature Electronics, relied on a cleaner technique to manipulate the flow of electricity, giving graphene greater conductivity than metals such as copper and gold, and raising its potential for use in telecommunications systems and quantum computers.

Using 2D materials, researchers have built superconducting qubits that are a fraction of previous sizes, paving the way for smaller quantum computers.

Columbia engineers invent method that combines quantum mechanics with machine learning to accurately predict oxide reactions at high temperatures when no experimental data is available; could be used to design clean carbon-neutral processes for steel production and metal recycling.

Scientists from Honda Research Institute USA, Inc. (HRI-US) have synthesized atomically thin “nanoribbons” – atomic-scale thickness, ribbon-shaped materials – that have broad implications for the future of quantum electronics, the area of physics dealing with the effects of quantum mechanics on the behavior of electrons in matter.

Six Columbia Quantum Initiative researchers joined Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researcher list this year. Here, we've compiled some highlights from 2021. 

With 2021 drawing to a close, Columbia physicists note the biggest quantum advances they saw last year and what may be coming as we head into 2022.

A team led by Columbia physicist Abhay Pasupathy sees stripes in samples of twisted double bilayer graphene, indicating the presence of a nematic phase characterized by broken rotational symmetry

The ability to program desired properties into materials will be key for making quantum technologies work in the real world. At the Programmable Quantum Materials Energy Frontiers Research Center, researchers have come together to create quantum effects on demand

An adjustable platform made from atomically thin materials may help researchers figure out how to create a robust quantum condensate that can flow without dissipation

Raquel Queiroz, a new assistant professor at Columbia, is setting her own rules as she explores the science of solid materials.

Abhay Pasupathy explains his recent discovery of a nematic phase in twisted double bilayer graphene to Phys.org.

Dmitri Basov presents his work on nanolight and quantum materials at the Simons Foundation President Lecture Series.

Check out 10 notable papers from Columbia’s Programmable Quantum Materials Energy Frontier Research Center

Boris Altshuler and Igor Aleiner share the American Physical Society’s Lars Onsager Prize with Princeton’s David Huse for their foundational work on many-body localization.

It’s a significant step in understanding these whirling quasiparticles and putting them to work in future semiconductor technologies.

Columbia Engineers Cheng Tan and James Hone help colleagues from ICFO bend electrons in graphene with a little light. 

Lights! Camera! Quantum! The theoretical quantum physicist by day and actor by night explains how she blends science and art.

A new paper observing the topologically non-trivial drumhead state emerging from nodal-line semimetals offers new insights into how these newly discovered states behave in real materials.

Columbia Engineers Song Liu and James Hone help colleagues at MIT engineer ferroelectricity 

When it comes to superconductivity, three layers of graphene can be better than two. A new study from Columbia physicists reveals the atomic details that help explain why.

Study describes new mechanism for lowering thermal conductivity to aid search for materials that convert heat to electricity or electricity to heat

The recipient of the 2022 Couillaud Prize is back in New York and has her sights set on building a super tiny new laser to advance quantum optics research.

Columbia chemists and physicists find a link between tunable electronic and magnetic properties in a 2D semiconductor, with potential applications in spintronics, quantum computing, and fundamental research.

As he graduates, the Physics and Math double major reflects on his time at Columbia and research experiences in a quantum lab.

Columbia welcomes its first participants in the postdoctoral program to New York this year. Here, they discuss their careers and interests in quantum phenomena in two-dimensional materials. 

The assistant professor of chemistry, who studies coherent imaging and control of quasiparticle interactions, is one of ten researchers selected to receive $6M in total science funding for cutting-edge research.

A team at Columbia University and the National University of Singapore finds a simple new way to describe the water-like movement of electrons in a novel type of semiconductor, which could pave the way for more efficient electronics.

The physical chemist at Columbia and recent recipient of a Beckman Young Investigator Award builds instruments to image quantum particles as they move. 

Through a NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program with Columbia’s Materials Research and Science Engineering Center on Precision-Assembled Quantum Materials, a visiting physics student spends time doing lab work on campus.

In exploring a family of two-dimensional crystals, a husband-and-wife team is uncovering a potent variety of new electron behaviors.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, Columbia University, and Harvard University detailed a new mechanism for the formation of magnetic moments in which the quantum confinement of electrons in clusters splits their electronic structures into distinct subshells with different spin directions and number of available orbitals. 

Columbia theoretical physicist Andrew Millis and collaborators at the University of Michigan explore electron pairing in high-temperature superconductors. 

Researchers at Columbia University and Politecnico di Milano have used an atomically thin material to build a device that can change the color of laser beams. Their microscopic device—a fraction of the size of conventional color converters—may yield new kinds of ultra-small optical circuit chips and advance quantum optics.

The U.S. Department of Energy renews Columbia’s Energy Frontier Research Center with a four-year $12.6 million grant.

A new bidimensional semiconductor shows the highest nonlinear optical efficiency over nanometer thicknesses.

Research shows that spinning quasiparticles, or magnons, light up when paired with a light-emitting quasiparticle, or exciton, with potential quantum information applications.

Bae, a postdoc working in the lab of Professor Xiaoyang Zhu, shares her journey to Columbia and what went into her recent Nature paper.

$1,050,000.00 from the Department of Energy will support their work through August 2025. 

Hone and his co-winners discovered graphene’s “insulating cousin.”

Zhu is recognized by the American Physical Society for his research on the spectroscopy and dynamics of molecular condensed materials, which he is taking to its quantum frontiers.

Aravind Devarakonda began studying electronics in high school. Today, he uses both physics and chemistry to discover new insights about how electrons behave. Read more in his Simon's Foundation Q&A. 

New research finds evidence of waveguiding in a unique quantum material. Their findings counter expectations about how metals conduct light and may push imaging beyond optical diffraction limits.

Seven Columbia Quantum Initiative researchers made Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researcher list this year. Here are a few highlights from 2022.

With the Shuck Lab, Emma Xu is a co-inventor of a photon avalanching process that appeared on the cover of Nature.

Columbia chemistry postdoc Elena Meirzadeh shares what’s so special about superatoms and her path through science so far.

Graphullerene, an atom-thin material made of linked fullerene subunits, gives scientists a new form of modular carbon to play with.

New research in Nature describes a unique quantum crystal that can behave as either a ferroelectric metal or a superconductor.

Research extends distance that current travels along organic molecules and opens a path to new types of tiny electronics

Speeding up a camera shutter a million million times enables researchers to understand how materials move heat around and is a major step in advancing sustainable energy applications.

Scientists led by a team from Columbia University and the Université de Bourgogne have developed an innovative “camera” with a shutter speed of 1 trillionth of a second that can see through the dynamic disorder of atoms.

Billinge spoke with the Columbia Data Science Institute about the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), key findings from the materials with long-range order (MLRO) workshop, and what they mean for the future of the field.

Theoretical physicists Raquel Queiroz comments.

Dean, a physicist studying the electronic properties of quantum materials, is one of seven mid-career scientists recognized this year. 

Physicist Cory Dean, recipient of a 2023 Brown Investigator Award, will explore new ways to modify quantum materials.

Jonathan Owen of Columbia University is the winner of the 2023 Inorganic Nanoscience Award. This award is presented by the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry to honor exceptional research in the area of inorganic nanoscience.

Simons Junior Fellow and Columbia Postdoc Eric Arsenault works at the intersection of physics and chemistry to understand how electrons and nuclei conspire — work that may lead to future energy and device technologies.

Columbia postdoc Brian Kim combines engineering and physics to advance research into the atom-thin world of 2D materials.

Tunneling spectroscopy uncovers the clearest proof yet that this exotic superconducting state of matter exists without a magnetic field in an iron-based superconductor. 

The award is given annually to Natural Sciences graduate students selected by faculty, and includes a prize of $5,000 funded by the Sidney Prince Trust.

Owethu Bukula and Quentin Taylor on their summer as NSF REU students with Columbia’s MRSEC on Precision-Assembled Quantum Materials.

One of 93 early career scientists selected this year, Assistant Professor James McIver was chosen for his proposal, "Ultrafast Control of Topological Transport in Quantum Materials"!

Joonho Lee and Elena Meirzadeh were recognized for their work in quantum and materials chemistry.

A new technique developed at Columbia offers a systematic evaluation of twist angle and strain in layered 2D materials.

A new tool combines a cryogenic nanoscope with a strong magnetic field to visualize quantum particles at sub-nanometer scales.

$530,000 grant from the Department of Energy will support Zhu's work until June 2026. 

Ribbons of graphene, rather than squares, could make a better platform for probing the unusual electronic effects that arise from twisting and straining adjacent layers of two-dimensional (2D) materials.

Postdoc Chiara Trovatello wins Best Lightning Talk Award at Department of Energy all-center meeting.

Julia Robinson explains how quantum dots went from a theoretical prediction to everyday reality and earned their creators the 2023 Nobel prize in chemistry

In this week’s episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, Gemma Ware speaks to Louis Brus, one of these new Nobel laureates and an emeritus professor of chemistry at Columbia University in New York, about his work on quantum dots and what winning the accolade means to him

The Columbia physicist was recognized for his contributions to the study of two-dimensional materials and their heterostructures. 

A record-breaking superatomic semiconductor material allows particles to traverse it between 100 and 1000 times faster than electrons pass through a silicon chip.

Columbia chemists discover ballistic flow in a quantum material. The finding could help overcome shortcomings in semiconductors.

Trovatello is recognized by the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation for bridging macroscopic and microscopic nonlinear optics with layered semiconductors. 

Richard Friesner, David Reichman, and GSAS '19 graduate James Shee will be part of the Department of Energy's Office of Science 2024 INCITE program. 

Six Columbia Quantum Initiative researchers made Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researcher list this year. Here are a few highlights from 2023.

Professor Louis Brus of Columbia University tells Nature Nanotechnology about his first encounter with the world of colloidal quantum dots.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative profiles Columbia Engineering PhD student Emma Xu. 

Assistant Professor of Physics James McIver is speeding up quantum research with ultrafast lasers.

Columbia Engineers pair vibrating particles, called phonons, with particles of light, called photons, to enhance the nonlinear optical properties of hexagonal boron nitride. The finding could lead to new ways of using light to modify materials. Learn more.

In a new paper, Roy’s team outlines the unusual quantum behavior of a new material they created, cerium silicon iodide.

The layered crystal, CeSiI, with heavier-than-normal electrons is a new platform to explore quantum phenomena.

Augusto Ghiotto describes his PhD work at Columbia on 2D materials, which was just recognized by the American Physical Society.

Victoria Posey talks about her PhD at Columbia and figuring out how to create new materials in the absence of air.

Physics World talks to members of the Roy Lab about their latest material. 

Nadya Mason, Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, gave a joint Columbia Quantum Initiative Distinguished Speaker Lecture/Columbia Physics C.S. Wu Colloquium on January, 29, 2024.

Researchers flip the switch at the nanoscale by applying light to induce bonding for single-molecule device switching.

Quantum science papers often focus on two-dimensional materials. Columbia News explains why.

Research from the groups of physicist Dmitri Basov and engineer Alexander Gaeta were among the most downloaded physics papers last year. 

Theoretical physicist Raquel Queiroz comments on a 2D material observed to exhibit the fractional quantum anomalous Hall effect. 

The results, continuing the legacy of late Columbia professor Aron Pinczuk, are a step toward a better understanding of gravity.

Gravitons, the particles thought to carry gravity, have never been seen in space – but something very similar has been detected in a semiconductor.

Emanuil Yanev talks about his PhD work modifying 2D materials to push their light-producing limits.

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