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Areas of Physics Research at UNF

Theoretical Condensed Matter

Materials Theory Group at UNF

Research by Dr. J.T. Haraldsen

New Class - Discovering Physics!

Dr. Haraldsen works on theoretical and computational condensed matter physics, where he utilizes various techniques that are centered around exact diagonalization, phenomenological, mean-field, and density functional methods and approaches. Overall, he is interested in investigating the complex states and competing interactions between charge, spin, and lattice degrees of freedom in magnetic and charge-order materials. Recently, Dr. Haraldsen has been working on understanding the interactions at complex oxide interfaces for multilayers as well as surface states and magnetoelectric transport in 2D and Dirac materials. The overall goal is to model and predict materials that have the potential to be utilized for applications within spintronic and multiferroic devices.

Looking to do research in theoretical or computational condensed matter physics, then please email Dr. Haraldsen

Recent Publications

Dirac nodes and magnetic order in M2X2 transition-metal chalcogenides, T. LaMartina, J.-X Zhu, A.V.Balatsky, and J. T. Haraldsen, Physica Status Solidi, 18000181 (2018).

The manifold of degenerate states and excitations due to release of magnetic frustration in the almost Heisenberg pyrochlore antiferromagnet MgCr2O4, S. Gao, Guratinder kaur, U. Stuhr, J. White, B. Roessli, T. Fennell, Ch. Ruegg, V. Tsurkan, A. Loidl, G. Balakrishnan, M. Ciomaga-Hatnean, S. Raymond, V. Garlea, A. Savici, M. Mansson, A. Cervellino, A. Bombardi, D. Chernyshov, J. T. Haraldsen, and O. Zaharko, Physical Review B 97, 134430 (2018).

Magnetic Dirac Bosons in the Honeycomb Lattice, D. Boyko, A. V. Balatsky, and J. T. Haraldsen, Physical Review 97, 014433 (2018).

Spatial dependence of super-exchange interactions for transition-metal trimers in graphene, Charles B. Crook, Gregory Houchins, Costel Constantin, Jian-Xin Zhu, Alexander V. Balatsky, and J. T. Haraldsen, Journal of Applied Physics 123, 013903 (2018).

Electronic chirality in the electronic structure of ferromagnetic Fe1/3-TaS2, S. Fan, I. Manuel, Amal al-Wahish, K. A. Smith, K. R. O'Neal, Y. Horibe, S. W. Cheong, J. T. Haraldsen, and J. L. Musfeldt, Physical Review B 96, 205119 (2017).

Voltage-dependent spin flip in magnetically substituted graphene nanoribbons: Towards the realization of graphene-based spintronic devices, Gregory Houchins, Charles B. Crook, Jian-Xin Zhu, Alexander V. Balatsky, and J. T. Haraldsen, Physical Review B 95, 155450 (2017).}

Cyclic E2 and P4 on Alzheimer's Disease Pathways, T.S. Wiley and J. T. Haraldsen, Advances in Alzheimer's Disease 6, 32 (2017).

Evolution of thermodynamic properties and inelastic neutron scattering intensities for spin-1/2 antiferromagnetic quantum rings, J. T. Haraldsen, Physical Review B 94, 054436 (2016).

H1R Antagonists for Brain Inflammation and Anxiety: Targeted Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders, T.S. Wiley and J. T. Haraldsen, Journal of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Research 4, 1000136 (2015).

Current Funding

Understanding Magnetic Dirac Materials - Institute for Materials Science at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2015-Present)

Ongoing Collaborations

  • Institute for Materials Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico
  • Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen, Switzerland

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Experimental Condensed Matter

Nanoscale Electronics and Optoelectronics

Research by Dr.Daniel Santavicca

Nanoscale Electronics and Optoelectronics Research

Optical spectroscopy at UNF

Research by Dr. Lev Gasparov

Dr. Gasparov's laboratory at the University of North Florida focuses on the spectroscopic studies of the Correlated Electron Materials. These materials represent an intermediate case of solids between those that have itinerant electrons and those with localized electrons. A complete description of systems with strong electron correlations is an ongoing challenge to the solid state physics community. However correlated electron materials may have myriads of industrial applications. Recent expansion in the field of memory storage such as solid state hard drives is an example of applications that came from correlated electron system research.

The main goal of the Dr. Gasparov's research is to reveal, investigate, and explain many unconventional phase transitions that are found in the correlated electron materials. Low temperature-, ambient-, and high hydrostatic pressure- Raman spectroscopy is the major tool used in the research.


T64000 triple Raman spectrometer equipped with the liquid nitrogen cooled CCD Detector. We use Innova 70 Argon ion laser to excite the Raman signal.

Low temperature capabilities are provided by theOxford Instruments Variox helium bath optical cryostat and R.G. Hansen and Associated high-tran helium flow optical cryostat. UNF high pressure diamond anvil cell is capable of producing hydrostatic pressure up to 20 GPa (~200,000 atm).

Ongoing Research

Magnetite (Fe3O4)

Magnetite (Fe3O4) is a naturally occurring mineral interesting for remarkably different fields of science. It is the first magnetic material known to mankind and it is the earliest compound known to manifest charge-ordering transition discovered by Verwey in 1939. At the same time magnetite is an integral part of many live objects. For instance, magnetotactic bacteria and pigeons use it for navigation along the Earth's magnetic field. Furthermore, it was reported that magnetite occurs in human brains and it may play a role in pathogenesis of the neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer.

Magnetite undergoes a first-order transition (the Verwey transition) at TV = 120 K, with changes of crystal structure, latent heat, and a two-order of magnitude decrease of the DC-conductivity. In spite of decades of research, the nature of this transition is still an open question. The project seeks to establish a correlation between the state dependence of the elementary excitations and the properties of the magnetite through the Verwey transition.

Magnetite's unconventional properties were known to mankind since antiquity. A compass made out of magnetite was used by the ancient Chinese to navigate the seas (Li Shu-hua, Isis, 45, 175 (1954)). In condensed matter physics, magnetite is considered to be the earliest compound manifesting a metal to insulator transition, known as Verwey transition (E. J. W. Verwey, Nature (London) 144, 327 (1939)). In pure stoichiometric magnetite the transition takes place around 120K. It affects electric, magnetic and structural properties of the compound. In spite of decades of research, the mechanism of transition remains an unsolved puzzle.

The ability to change temperature and pressure allows one to reveal a comprehensive pressure-temperature phase diagram of magnetite that is critical for the understanding of the transition's mechanism. Existing literature offers diverging opinions on the effect of pressure on the transition with some publications suggesting the altogether disappearance of the transition above certain pressure and other reports indicating a gradual decrease of the transition temperature with pressure without the disappearance of the transition. The reasons for such controversy have been debated in a number of publications without any convergence of the opinions.

The ambiguous nature of existing experimental results could be explained by doping: the intentional or inadvertent introduction of impurities. Metal dopants can be easily introduced into the magnetite during crystal growth. This idea was tested in a recent UNF study of pure and aluminum doped magnetite (Gasparov et al., J. Appl. Phys. 112, 043510 (2012)).

The following figure summarizes the results. In particular, it displays how the Verwey transition temperature changes with pressure in a pure and 2% Al-doped magnetite. Open symbols indicate low temperature ("insulator") phase of magnetite; filled symbols indicate the high temperature ("metal") phase of magnetite. Squares indicate pure magnetite data, circles correspond to Al-doped sample, and the stars represent the X-ray data of Rosenberg et al. (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 045705-1 (2006)).

The following figure summarizes the results. In particular, it displays how the Verwey transition temperature changes with pressure in a pure and 2% Al-doped magnetite. Open symbols indicate low temperature ("insulator") phase of magnetite; filled symbols indicate the high temperature ("metal") phase of magnetite. Squares indicate pure magnetite data, circles correspond to Al-doped sample, and the stars represent the X-ray data of Rosenberg et al. (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 045705-1 (2006)).

graph with info reflected below
The figure clearly displays two dramatically different pressure dependencies of the transition temperature for pure magnetite (short dash line) and Al-doped magnetite (dash line).


Strong doping effect on the Pressure-vs.-Transition temperature (PT) line is an indicator of important role played by charge ordering because doping is the major disruption of such order. This in turn is an argument in favor of a new charge-ordering based mechanism of transition. New data on the magnetite samples with different degree of doping or different doping elements are critical to corroborate such charge ordering mechanism. This is the subject of ongoing research at the UNF spectroscopy lab of Dr. Gasparov.

Ongoing Collaborations

  • Geophysical laboratory, Carnegie Institution, Washington DC, USA
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA
  • University of Technology, Troyes, France
  • II. Institute of Physics (II. Physikalisches Institut) RWTH Aachen, Germany
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Ecole Polytechnique Federal De Lausanne), Lausanne, Switzerland


Correlated Electron Physics in Complex Oxides

Research by Dr. Maitri Warusawithana

Dr. Warusawithana's research lies at the intersection of experimental condensed matter physics, materials science and chemistry. His expertise is in the growth and study of thin crystalline films. These are two-dimensional sheets of atoms precisely crafted at the ultimate single molecular layer thickness using the technique of molecular beam epitaxy. The focus of his research is on investigating correlated electronic physics in complex oxides and related materials. His research interests include,

  • Quantum transport properties of strongly correlated systems and systems with reduced dimensionality.
  • Spin based devices on semiconductors - injection, manipulation, transport and detection
  • Modifying collective states through atomically abrupt heteroepitaxial interfaces
  • Materials engineering at the nanoscale for tailored functionality and quantum devices


Primordial black holes and varying fundamental constants, Dr. Jane MacGibbon

Dark matter, supersymmetry, the cosmic microwave background, neutrino physics, and cosmic rays, Dr. Chris Kelso

Observational astrophysics, particle acceleration, cosmic rays and the interstellar medium, Dr. John Hewitt

Geophysics-Paleontology Research

Geological and paleontological field research; Magnetic properties of fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks, Dr. Barry Albright

Research Facilities

Research facilities in the Department of Physics include:

  • Quantum Design ATL-160 helium liquefier
  • Dual-chamber molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system
  • Thermal and electron-beam thin-film deposition systems
  • FEI Quanta scanning electron microscope with energy-dispersive x-ray analysis and electron-beam lithography system
  • Karl Suss mask aligner
  • Quantum Design SQUID magnetometer
  • Quantum Design Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS)
  • Bruker single-crystal x-ray diffractometer
  • Jobin Yvon T64000 triple Raman spectrometer
  • Ultrafast time-resolved transient scattering microscope based on a femtosecond oscillator
  • Near-field scanning optical microscope
  • 72-core server with 512 GB of RAM

Faculty in Physics also make use of the UNF Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility (MSERF), an electron microscopy and materials characterization user facility. Visit our Equipment/Techniques for a list of available equipment.