Physics Department: REU Projects - Condensed Matter Physics/Biophysics

Prof. Margaret Dobrowolska-Furdyna
Email: mdobrowo (at)

The available projects involve the study of properties of ferromagnetic semiconductors in a form of thin layer and/or nano-wires. GaAs, where some of the Ga atoms are substituted by a magnetic ion Mn, would be the example of this class of materials. The structures are fabricated by the Molecular Epitaxy Machine where we can grow them in a very controllable way. Some of our projects concentrate on the optical properties of the samples like magneto-luminescence, micro-luminescence, absorption and/or reflection of circularly polarized light.  Other projects involve studies of magneto-transport and magnetic properties using  superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID).

Prof. Morten Eskildsen
Email: meskilds (at)

The research of our group is focused on the study of vortices in superconductors and how they reflect on the detailed nature of the superconducting state. Recently we have also started to investigate collective electron phenomena such as charge density waves in thin films of transition metal dichalcogenides grown by MBE. More information can be found at our web site: .

REU projects involve participation in one of two experimental programs: Scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy (STM/STS) measurements performed in our laboratory at Notre Dame, or small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments at a domestic or international neutron facility.

Prof. Kenjiro Gomes
Email: kgomes (at)

How do we meet the growing need to increase even further the control over electronic interactions and their resulting emergent properties? The main goal of our research is to use scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic manipulation to assemble—one atom at a time—artificially engineered electronic systems. We have developed this technique to make possible to build nanoscale lattices large enough to emulate the physics of larger condensed matter systems with the advantage of fine-tuning capabilities that allow tailoring of the band structure and spin interactions. I will explore the flexibility given by artificially designed systems to generate the physical properties so far inaccessible by traditional material growth techniques, in special the properties of low dimensional systems.

Prof. Sylwia Ptasinska
Email: sylwia.ptasinska.1 (at)

Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jets for Biomedical Applications: The invention of the non-thermal Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jet (APPJ), which can be operated under ambient conditions rather than in vacuum, opened up the possibilities to use plasmas for a broad range of medical applications, including hospital hygiene, antifungal treatment, dental care, treatment of skin diseases, cancer treatment, treatment of chronic wounds and use in cosmetics, just to mention a few. However, the lack of a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes underlying the interaction of atmospheric pressure plasma jets with biological tissues prevents many prospective plasma instruments from being introduced into medical practices.

Prior research conducted on biological samples hypothesized that the reactive species in the APPJ could initiate a cascade of biochemical processes, leading to the death of cells. The APPJ also offers a unique gas environment consisting of reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, UV photons, and charged particles, which may contribute to various biological effects. Nevertheless, before a detailed understanding can be obtained of the complex processes underlying the interaction of APPJs with biological systems, the physics and chemistry of the plasma jet needs to be well-defined by both qualitative and quantitative analysis of its constituents. Therefore, the reliable characterization of the plasma species produced in the APPJ will be beneficial for progressing plasma technology.

Prof. Dervis Can Vural
Email: dvural (at)

We are a theoretical group that works on the interface between statistical mechanics and biology. Currently we focus on three categories of problems: First, evolution of strongly interacting populations, particularly when stochastic factors are as influential as selection events. For example, we would like to understand how an ecological web gets mingled, or what role phenotypic diversity plays in cancer. Secondly, we are interested in failure and death: We study how complex systems respond to the malfunction of one or few crucial components, and how malfunctions spread. Thirdly we are interested in “inverse problems”, particularly in the context of complex materials and networks. This class of problems involves obtaining equations and assumptions directly from experimental behavior, rather than the other way around. We are particularly excited about cases where the data is consistent with multiple conflicting assumptions!