Associate 2018-19

Vidya Madhavan


Imaging Light Induced Excitations at the Nanoscale

Some of the most interesting problems being tackled by physicists today involve the study of emergent phenomena in complex materials. The word emergence captures the idea that when simple elements interact, they can display collective effects, which cannot be easily explained on the basis of the constituent elements and their interactions. Correlated electron systems and high temperature superconductors are two examples of complex materials where a myriad of interesting phenomena are observed which defy explanations using simple models. In some cases, it would seem like the community is stuck in a deadlock with no progress being made on either the theoretical or experimental fronts. This is where new instruments come in. Developing new instrumentation or combining instruments in new ways provides new perspectives on problems that can also lead to new and unexpected discoveries.

Professor Madhavan’s expertise lies in imaging properties of quantum particles in solids with high spatial and energy resolution using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). During her CAS appointment, she will explore the development of new instruments and investigate techniques to image time-dependent processes in correlated electron systems and superconductors by coupling light to the STM. If successful, the instrument will push the boundaries of understanding of the dynamic properties of complex materials. Progress in understanding these systems has fundamental, as well as practical, implications for future applications.