# Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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### TIME RESOLVED OPTICAL STUDIES OF SPIN AND QUASIPARTICLE DYNAMICS IN FERROMAGNETIC THIN FILMS AND SUPERCONDUCTORS

Author:YU GONGYear of Dissertation:2013Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Yuhang RenAbstract:This thesis presents the studies of spin and quasiparticle dynamics in ferromagnetic thin films and iron based superconductors by ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) and time-resolved pump-probe optical techniques. First, the FMR spectroscopies were applied to study the spin dynamics both in frequency and time domains for the epitaxially grown Fe/GaAs thin films and FeCoB/Cr/FeCoB multilayer structures. In the single layer Fe/GaAs thin films, magnetization precessions were studied to characterize the magnetic dynamical parameters. Our results show that the magnetic crystalline anisotropy is dominative and the magnetic damping is strongly dependent on the in-plane magnetic field orientations. In FeCoB/Cr/FeCoB multilayer films, both the acoustic and the optical spin wave modes were identified in the FMR spectra. We reveal that the adjacent magnetic layers in the trilayer structures are antiferromagnetic coupled with an effective interlayer coupling constant Jeff. The magnetic dynamical parameters can be accurately optimized by the interlayer coupling constant Jeff. Second, we employed the time-resolved pump-probe magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) spectroscopy to study the spin dynamics in the Fe/GaAs thin films at picosecond time scale. The time-resolved MOKE results were combined with static magnetic hysteresis loops at various time delays to understand the ultrafast demagnetization dynamics. The ultrafast demagnetization process is faster than the time required for the electron-phonon equilibration and therefore the spin-orbital coupling has to be included with the conventional electron thermalization model to understand our results. Moreover, we show that the ultrafast magnetization excitation and reorientation can be coherently controlled by varying the polarization of the pump beam. The magnetization excitation and reorientation are attributed to the laser induced effective magnetic field in the sample. Third, the quasiparticle relaxation dynamics were studied in electron-doped BaFe1.9Ni0.1As2 and BaFe1.85Co0.15As2 superconductors by time-resolved pump-probe optical spectroscopy. Two distinct relaxation components observed in the transient reflectivity spectra are attributed to the quasiparticle recombination in the superconducting state and quasiparticle relaxations from the higher excited band due to the multiband excitation. The results show the multi-gap characteristic in BaFe1.9Ni0.1As2 and BaFe1.85Co0.15As2 superconductors. Moreover, the estimated electron-phonon coupling constant and the Coulomb pseudopotential indicate that the electron-phonon interaction is not large enough to induce the SC transition. A spin mediated pairing mechanism is necessary to understand the SC phase transition in the iron based superconductors.

### Biophysical Characterization of a De Novo Elastin

Author:Kelly GreenlandYear of Dissertation:2015Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Ronald KoderAbstract:Natural human elastin is found in tissue such as the lungs, arteries, and skin. This protein is formed at birth with no mechanism present to repair or supplement the initial quantity formed. As a result, the functionality and durability of elastin’s elasticity is critically important. To date, the mechanics of this ability to stretch and recoil is not fully understood. This study utilizes de novo protein design to create a small library of simplistic versions of elastin-like proteins, demonstrate the elastin-like proteins, maintain elastin’s functionality, and inquire into its structure using solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Elastin is formed from cross-linked tropoelastin. Therefore, the first generation of designed proteins consisted of one protein that utilized homogony of interspecies tropoelastin by using three common domains, two hydrophobic and one cross-linking domains. Basic modifications were made to open the hydrophobic region and also to make the protein easier to purify and characterize. The designed protein maintained its functionality, self-aggregating as the temperature increased. Uniquely, the protein remained self-aggregated as the temperature returned below the critical transition temperature. Self-aggregation was additionally induced by increasing salt concentrations and by modifying the pH. The protein appeared to have little secondary structure when studied with solution NMR. These results fueled a second generation of designed elastin-like proteins. This generation contained variations designed to study the cross-linking domain, one specific hydrophobic domain, and the effect of the length of the elastin-like protein. The cross-linking domain in one variation has been significantly modified while the flanking hydrophobic domains have remained unchanged. This characterization of this protein will answer questions regarding the specificity of the homologous nature of the cross-linking domain of tropoelastin across species. A second protein has additional hydrophobic domains flanking the originally designed elastin-like protein. The characterization of this protein will answer questions regarding the functionality of longer or more hydrophobic elastin-like proteins. The final variation designed is one hydrophobic domain and the new cross-linking domain repeating several times. The characterization of this protein will answer questions regarding the specific hydrophobic domain and its functionality.

### Studies On Bell's Theorem

Author:Veli Ugur GuneyYear of Dissertation:2015Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Mark HilleryAbstract:In this work we look for novel classes of Bell's inequalities and methods to produce them. We also find their quantum violations including, if possible, the maximum one. The Jordan bases method that we explain in Chapter 2 is about using a pair of certain type of orthonormal bases whose spans are subspaces related to measurement outcomes of incompatible quantities on the same physical system. Jordan vectors are the briefest way of expressing the relative orientation of any two subspaces. This feature helps us to reduce the dimensionality of the parameter space on which we do searches for optimization. The work is published in [24]. In Chapter 3, we attempt to find a connection between group theory and Bell's theorem. We devise a way of generating terms of a Bell's inequality that are related to elements of an algebraic group. The same group generates both the terms of the Bell's inequality and the observables that are used to calculate the quantum value of the Bell expression. Our results are published in [25][26]. In brief, Bell's theorem is the main tool of a research program that was started by Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen [19] and Bohr [8] in the early days of quantum mechanics in their discussions about the core nature of physical systems. These debates were about a novel type of physical states called superposition states, which are introduced by quantum mechanics and manifested in the apparent inevitable randomness in measurement outcomes of identically prepared systems. Bell's huge contribution was to find a means of quantifying the problem and hence of opening the way to experimental verification by rephrasing the questions as limits on certain combinations of correlations between measurement results of spatially separate systems [7]. Thanks to Bell, the fundamental questions related to the nature of quantum mechanical systems became quantifiable [6]. According to Bell's theorem, some correlations between quantum entangled systems that involve incompatible quantities are not allowed by classical mechanics, a feature that is called as quantum nonlocality. An experimental observation of those correlations, in other words, a violation of the limits imposed by classical physics, implies the correctness of quantum description and invalidates the classical, local realistic models. The first Bell experiments were proposed by Clauser, Horne, Shimony, and Holt, who invented the most famous Bell's inequality [13]. Later, the Aspect experiments were satisfactory enough for the physics community to be conclusive about the validation of quantum mechanics [1][3][4][2]. Ekert's work on applications of quantum nonlocality to communication resulted in the new eld of quantum communication and cryptography, and turned the research program into a practical one [20]. Pitowsky showed a method to nd all expressions of limitations due to local realism, all Bell's inequalities, for a given physical scenario. He also proved that the problem is, unfortunately, NP-complete and hence as the scenarios get more complex, they also become computationally intractable [33][34]. Therefore, dierent methods for the solution of special cases of the problem are necessary. Inequalities found for those special cases can be called classes of Bell's inequalities. For example, Werner and Wolf [41] and Collins, Gisin, Linden, Massar, and Popescu [16] found classes that cover a wide range of scenarios. Our work is a similar kind of eort to produce and study new types of Bell's inequalities.

### THEORY OF BCS-BEC CROSSOVER IN ULTRACOLD ATOMIC GASES

Author:Yasemin GurcanYear of Dissertation:2012Program:PhysicsAdvisor:SULTAN CATTOAbstract:In ultracold atomic fermions, the sign and the magnitude of pairing interactions can be controlled by using the magnetically-tuned Feshbach resonances to achieve a continuos transition between Cooper pairs of dilute fermi gas to BEC of diatomic molecules, which is known as the "BCS-BEC crossover". At present, although several models have been proposed, there is still no exact analytical solution of the many-body problem of BCS-BEC crossover region. The standard BCS mean field theory of superconductivity was used [1-3] to describe the whole crossover resulting a useful approximation. In our studies, we investigated solvable models for the best variational analytical solution for BCS-BEC crossover at T= 0.

### Planar Waveguide Structures for Post-EDFA Broadband Near Infrared Optical Amplifiers

Author:Islam HoxhaYear of Dissertation:2014Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Vladimir PetricevicAbstract:This thesis reports on optical gain of up to 5.7 dB from a planar waveguide with core made of tetravalent chromium-doped calcium germanate single crystal.

### Photonic Structures Based on Hybrid Nanocomposites

Author:Saima HusainiYear of Dissertation:2011Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Vinod MenonAbstract:In this thesis, photonic structures embedded with two types of nanomaterials, (i) quantum dots and (ii) metal nanoparticles are studied. Both of these exhibit optical and electronic properties different from their bulk counterpart due to their nanoscale physical structure. By integrating these nanomaterials into photonic structures, in which the electromagnetic field can be confined and controlled via modification of geometry and composition, we can enhance their linear and nonlinear optical properties to realize functional photonic structures. Before embedding quantum dots into photonic structures, we study the effect of various host matrices and fabrication techniques on the optical properties of the colloidal quantum dots. The two host matrices of interest are SU8 and PMMA. It is shown that the emission properties of the quantum dots are significantly altered in these host matrices (especially SU8) and this is attributed to a high rate of nonradiative quenching of the dots. Furthermore, the effects of fabrication techniques on the optical properties of quantum dots are also investigated. Finally a microdisk resonator embedded with quantum dots is fabricated using soft lithography and luminescence from the quantum dots in the disk is observed. We investigate the absorption and effective index properties of silver nanocomposite films. It is shown that by varying the fill factor of the metal nanoparticles and fabrication parameters such as heating time, we can manipulate the optical properties of the metal nanocomposite. Optimizing these parameters, a silver nanocomposite film with a 7% fill factor is prepared. A one-dimensional photonic crystal consisting of alternating layers of the silver nanocomposite and a polymer (Polymethyl methacrylate) is fabricated using spin coating and its linear and nonlinear optical properties are investigated. Using reflectivity measurements we demonstrate that the one-dimensional silver-nanocomposite-dielectric photonic crystal exhibits a 200% enhancement of the reflection band which is attributed to the interplay between the plasmon resonance of the silver nanoparticles and the Bloch modes of the photonic crystal. Nonlinear optical studies on this one-dimensional silver-nanocomposite-dielectric structure using z-scan measurements are conducted. These measurements indicate a three-fold enhancement in the nonlinear absorption coefficient when compared to a single film of comparable metal composite thickness.

### TRANSPORT AND OPTICAL PROPERTIES OF LOW-DIMENSIONAL COMPLEX SYSTEMS

Author:Andrii IurovYear of Dissertation:2014Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Godfrey GumbsAbstract:Over the last five years of my research work, I, my research was mainly concerned with certain crucial tunneling, transport and optical properties of novel low-dimensional graphitic and carbon-based materials as well as topological insulators. Both single-electron and many-body problems were addressed. We investigated the Dirac electrons transmission through a potential barrier in the presence of circularly polarized light. An anomalous photon-assisted enhanced transmission is predicted and explained in a comparison with the well-known Klein paradox. It is demonstrated that the perfect transmission for nearly-head-on collision in an infinite graphene is suppressed in gapped dressed states of electrons, which is further accompanied by shift of peaks as a function of the incident angle away from the head-on collision. We calculate the energy bands for graphene monolayers when electrons move through a periodic electrostatic potential in the presence of a uniform perpendicular magnetic field. We clearly demonstrate the quantum fractal nature of the energy bands at reasonably low magnetic fields. We present results for the energy bands as functions of both wave number and magnetic flux through the unit cells of the resulting moir´e superlattice. This feature is also observed at extremely high magnetic fields. We have discovered a novel feature in the plasmon excitations for a pair of Coulomb-coupled non-concentric spherical two-dimensional electron gases (S2DEGs). Our results show that the plasmon excitations for such pairs depend on the orientation with respect to the external electromagnetic probe field. The origin of this anisotropy of the inter-sphere Coulomb interaction is due to the directional asymmetry of the electrostatic coupling of electrons in excited states which depend on both the angular momentum quantum number L and its projection M on the axis of quantization taken as the probe E-field direction. Such an effect from the plasmon spatial correlation is expected to be experimentally observable by employing circularly-polarized light or a helical light beam for incidence. The S2DEG serves as a simple model for fullerenes as well as metallic dimers, when the energy bands are far apart. Magnetoplasmons in gapped graphene have been investigated and the exchange energy dependence on magnetic field is presented.

### Quantum Physics of Molecular Magnets

Author:Reem JaafarYear of Dissertation:2010Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Eugene ChudnovskyAbstract:In this thesis we focus on various aspects of quantum physics in molecular magnets, in particular, in Mn

_{12}-acetate. This thesis is divided into three parts. In the first part, we present a review on molecular magnets. Since Mn_{12}-acetate has a large spin (equal to 10), the theory of tunneling of a large spin is discussed as well as the early experiments that were performed two decades ago and which has shown spin tunneling, in particular, the ones that were performed on &gamma -Fe_{2}-O_{3}- and on antiferromagnetic ferritin. Then, the first experiments that presented evidence on spin tunneling in Mn_{12}--acetate are outlined in detail. Magnetic hysteresis curves are shown and Landau-Zener effect in molecular magnets is discussed. Quantum classical crossover between thermally assisted and pure quantum tunneling regimes is described. Finally, magnetic avalanches are introduced: they are another feature of the magnetization curve in Mn_{12}-Acetate where there is a sudden reversal in the magnetization. We exploit the first two experiments performed to elucidate the nature of magnetic avalanches in Mn_{12}--acetate and the theory developed as a result of these experiments. In the second part of this thesis, we focus on three of my publications on quantum magneto-mechanical effects. First, a recent experiment on Einstein-de Haas effect in a NiFe film deposited on a microcantilever is discussed. The cantilever was placed inside a coil that generated an ac magnetic field. Oscillation of the cantilever was measured by a fiber-optic interferometer positioned above the tip of the cantilever. When the frequency of the ac field matched the resonance frequency of the cantilever the amplitude of the oscillations was about 3 nm. The data were analyzed within a model that replaced the mechanical torque due to change in the magnetization with the effect of the periodic force acting on the fictitious point mass at the free end of the cantilever so this model did not account for the microscopic dynamics of the Einstein-de Haas effect. This motivated us to develop a more rigorous theoretical framework for the description of the dynamics of the Einstein-de Haas effect that we applied to the problem of the magnetic cantilever. We then study the quantum dynamics of a magnetic molecule deposited on a microcantilever. Amplitude and frequencies of the coupled magneto-mechanical oscillations have been computed. We show that oscillations of the spin and the cantilever occur independently at frequencies &Delta/&hbar and &omega_{n}respectively, unless these two frequencies come very close to each other. The results show that the splitting &delta has no free parameters and that for a given resonance, &Delta=&hbar&omega_{n}the relative splitting &delta depends only on the position of the molecule on the cantilever. We then show that existing experimental techniques permit observation of the driven coupled oscillations of the spin and the cantilever, as well as of the splitting of the mechanical modes of the cantilever caused by spin tunneling. Finally, the dynamics of a magnetic molecule bridged between two conducting leads is investigated. We start by reviewing various experiments performed when there is a weak coupling between the molecule and the leads and when there is a strong coupling which results in the Kondo effect. Experimental efforts were mainly motivated to measure the electronic current through a single molecule. We study the dynamics of the total angular momentum that couples spin tunneling to the mechanical rotations. We show that the Landau-Zener spin transition produced by the time-dependent magnetic field generates a unique pattern of mechanical oscillations that can be detected by measuring the electronic tunneling current through the molecule. In the last and final part, we present our numerical work to describe quantum magnetic deflagration in Mn_{12}-acetate. This part is related to magnetic deflagration as discussed in part I of this thesis. The focus is on the quantum features of magnetic deflagration which are exhibited by the maxima in the speed of deflagration front as a function of the applied magnetic field. We review recent work on the effect of the dipolar field in forming self-organized fronts of spin tunneling, and present our enhanced computational work on the calculation of the relaxation rate. Previously, spin relaxation rates were calculated using a simple Arrhenius exponent. In this thesis we calculate the relaxation rate as a function of both the external field and temperature using the density matrix formalism and use them to study the effect of the transverse field on the front speed of deflagration.### Solid State NMR Studies of Energy Conversion and Storage Materials

Author:Sohan Roshel De Silva Jankuru HennadigeYear of Dissertation:2011Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Steve GreenbaumAbstract:NMR (Nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy is utilized to study energy conversion and storage materials. Different types of NMR techniques including Magic Angle Spinning, Cross-polarization and relaxation measurement experiments were employed. Four different projects are discussed in this dissertation. First, three types of CF

_{x}battery materials were investigated. Electrochemical studies have demonstrated different electrochemical performances by one type, delivering superior performance over the other two.13 C and19 F MAS NMR techniques are employed to identify the atomic/molecular structural factors that might account for differences in electrochemical performance among different types. Next as the second project, layered polymer dielectrics were investigated by NMR. Previous studies have shown that thin film capacitors are improved by using alternate layers of two polymers with complementary properties: one with a high breakdown strength and one with high dielectric constant as opposed to monolithic layers.13 C to1 H cross-polarization techniques were used to investigate any inter-layer properties that may cause the increase in the dielectric strength. The third project was to study two types of thermoelectric materials. These samples were made of heavily doped phosphorous and boron in silicon by two different methods: ball-milled and annealed. These samples were investigated by NMR to determine the degree of disorder and obtain insight into the doping efficiency. The last ongoing project is on a lithium-ion battery system. The nature of passivating layers or the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) formed on the electrodes surface is important because of the direct correlation between the SEI and the battery life time/durability. Multinuclear (7 Li,19 F,31 P) techniques are employed to identify the composition of the SEI formation of both positive and negative electrodes.### STATISTICAL MECHANICS OF JAMMED PACKINGS OF SPHERES

Author:Yuliang JinYear of Dissertation:2012Program:PhysicsAdvisor:Hernan MakseAbstract:The problem of finding the most efficient way to pack spheres has an illustrious history, dating back to the crystalline arrays conjectured by Kepler and the random geometries explored by Bernal in the 60's. There are presently numerous experiments showing that randomly packing spheres of equal size into a container consistently results in a static configuration with a density of 0.64. The ubiquity of random close packing (RCP) rather than the equilibrium crystalline array at 0.74 begs a new statistical framework. Here we introduce a general volume ensemble statistical approach for jammed packings of spheres. This approach provides a thermodynamic definition of RCP: RCP can be interpreted as a manifestation of a thermodynamic singularity, which defines it as the ``freezing point'' in a first-order phase transition between ordered and disordered packing phases. We generalize the theory to jammed packings of high dimensional and different size spheres. The asymptotic high-dimensional scaling of the RCP density is consistent with that of other approaches, such as replica theory and density functional theory. The theory predicts the density of random close packing and random loose packing (RLP) of polydisperse systems for a given distribution of sphere size. The present mean-field approach may help to treat packing problems of non-spherical particles, and could serve as a starting point to understand the higher-order correlations present in jammed packings.