Physics Department: REU Projects - Condensed Matter Physics/Biophysics

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

The available projects involve the study of properties of ferromagnetic semiconductors in a form of thin layers and multilayers. As an example, the well-known semiconductor in which a fraction of Ga atoms is replace by the magnetic ion Mn becomes a ferromagnet. These novel structures are fabricated by the process of Molecular Beam Epitaxy, where they can be grown with atomic precision. Some of our projects involving these materials include electrical transport measurements in magnetic field, studies of magnetic properties using superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID), optical studies, and magnetic resonance.

Prof. Morten Eskildsen
Email: eskildsen (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)

Low-energy electron interactions with biomolecules. Abundance of fundamental and applied cross-disciplinary research areas, involving low energy electrons (LEEs), have experienced a significant growth in recent years. Specific reactions, induced by LEEs, are relevant to many fields: plasma, nanolithography, dielectric aging, radiation processing and waste management, astrobiology, planetary and atmospheric chemistry, radiobiology, radiotherapy, and explosive detection. The LEE interactions are also relevant to many experimental techniques in which samples are probed by radiation (e.g., synchrotron studies). It is generally accepted that electrons with energies less than 15 eV are considered “low energy”. In recent years our group focused on LEE interactions with DNA and its constituents. It has been shown that nucleobases play an essential role in radiation damage to DNA by acting as antennas for capturing the LEEs. However, other macromolecules within the cell (e.g., cell membrane or proteins) may be susceptible to radiation damage.

Thus, in this research project, a student will be involved in revealing, identifying and quantifying all major electron induced fragmentation patterns of different biologically relevant molecules in the gas phase.

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!