Ian Fisher, PhD

Associate Professor of Applied Physics and, by courtesy, of Materials Science and Engineering

(650) 723-5821

In our group we study materials with unconventional magnetic and/or electronic properties, with the aim of better understanding emergent behavior in strongly correlated systems. We employ a combination of thermodynamic, transport and scattering measurements, often in high magnetic fields, and use a variety of techniques to grow high quality single crystals of the materials that we study. Current interests include superconductivity, aspects of quantum magnetism, the behavior of electrons in low-dimensional materials, and topological insulators.


PhD, University of Cambridge, UK

Research Interests

A large part of the field of condensed matter and materials physics involves the study of the behavior of electrons in solids. A piece of copper just a centimeter across contains a staggering 1021 valence electrons, which are in principle all interacting with each other via both their charge and the Pauli exclusion principle. In many cases the effect of these interactions, moderated by screening, is simply to renormalize the band properties of the electrons in the solid (this is pretty much what happens for copper – the electron effective mass is only changed slightly from the value we would calculate assuming no interactions). But in other cases, arguably the more interesting, these interactions result in qualitatively different physical behavior. These strongly correlated materials, which often harbor emergent quantum behavior, have given physicists some of the most astounding physical effects, and some of the deepest theoretical challenges, over the last half century. Significantly, these materials also hold promise for future technological applications.


The search for and discovery of novel materials that host such effects plays a vital role in the field of condensed matter and materials physics. The compounds identified through this process enable us to pose, refine and answer important questions at the heart of these complex issues. Our research exists at the intersection between the traditional disciplines of physics, solid state chemistry and materials science. Combining techniques and insights from each discipline has proven to be a particularly powerful approach to addressing these issues. Using various methods, we have been able to grow single crystals of a wide variety of new and novel materials exhibiting emergent quantum behavior, enabling detailed study of their physical properties, and ultimately revealing the nature of the underlying electronic structure and interactions.


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