This week at the lab, theoretical physicist Nicola Lanata is settling into his office at the MagLab, his home for the next two years as the lab’s new Dirac Fellow.
As the newest addition to the lab’s Condensed Matter Group, Lanata will collaborate with both experimental and theoretical physicists to study a class of materials called strongly correlated electron systems. In these materials, electrons behave differently than in semiconductors and most metals. They interact strongly with each other, giving rise to intriguing phases and properties, such as high-temperature superconductivity, that are both challenging and tantalizing to physicists.
A native of Pisa, Italy, Lanata earned his Ph.D. from the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, and, before coming to the MagLab, completed a postdoc at Rutgers University.
Theoretical and experimental physicists at the MagLab both work to shed light on strongly correlated electron systems and other mysteries, but approach them from different angles. When they collaborate, it is like an ongoing dialogue, Lanata said. Experimentalists test the theorists’ ideas, and the theorists work to explain the experimentalists’ discoveries. Lanata has developed theoretical techniques that have resulted in faster, more accurate computer simulations.
"It is quite exciting to be here," said Lanata. "I look forward to start new collaborations and hope that the techniques that I have helped develop will be useful to the CMS group."
Photo by Stephen Bilenky / Text by Kristen Coyne