Terahertz Dynamics and Control in Complex Materials

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Date/Time:Monday, 02 Dec 2013 from 4:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Location:Physics 0003
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Richard Averitt (Boston University)

The past decade has seen enormous advances in materials and spectroscopy spanning from classical to quantum physics. On the classical front, metamaterials are artificial composites with unique electromagnetic properties that derive from their sub-wavelength structure. Metamaterials enable new ways to control light with negative refractive index and cloaking as two examples of considerable interest. Moving to the quantum realm, correlated electron materials exhibit fascinating phenomena ranging from superconductivity to metal-insulator transitions. Many of these materials exhibit colossal changes to small perturbations, which includes electromagnetic excitation. This opens up exciting possibilities such as photoinduced phase transitions with a goal to create metastable states with unique properties. Following an introduction to this research field, I will show examples of our work using picosecond terahertz pulses to probe and control matter including our recent demonstration of a metamaterial enhanced electric field initiated insulator-to-metal transition in vanadium dioxide.

Bio: Richard Averitt received his PhD degree in Applied Physics from Rice University for work on the synthesis and optical characterization of gold nanoshells. Following this, Richard was a Los Alamos National Laboratory Director's Postdoctoral Fellow where his work focused on time resolved far-infrared spectroscopy of strongly correlated electron materials. In 2001, Richard became a member of the technical staff at Los Alamos, and in 2005 a member of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies co-located at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. In 2007, Richard joined Boston University as a faculty member in the Department of Physics and the Boston University Photonics Center. Starting in January 2014, Richard will be with the Department of Physics at UC San Diego. Richard's research is primarily directed towards characterizing, creating, and controlling the optical and electronic properties of complex materials. This includes metamaterial and plasmonic composites and quantum matter such as correlated transition metal oxides.