Peter Scherpelz

Hertz Fellow: Peter Scherpelz

University of Chicago

Area of Study

Computational Condensed Matter Physics

Fellowship Years

2008 - 2013

Peter Scherpelz is a postdoctoral researcher in computational condensed matter physics at the University of Chicago. He works with Professor Giulia Galli in the new Institute for Molecular Engineering at the university. His primary project focuses on the use of doped silicon systems for quantum information. Recent advances allow silicon surfaces to be doped with atomic precision, leading to semiconducting devices that can be manufactured with unprecedented miniaturization and atom-by-atom control. Peter's work explores the detailed electronic properties of both the lithography method, and the resulting device configurations. Aside from quantum information, Peter also is working on improvements to many-body perturbation theory (MBPT) calculations for materials. Recent code developments from the Galli group allow very large-scale calculations to be performed with MBPT; Peter is extending these to support spin-orbit coupling effects that are present in heavy atoms. This is an important effect in many materials that are promising candidates for solar cells and other nanotechnology applications.

Peter also did his graduate work at the University of Chicago, in the Department of Physics with Professor Kathy Levin. Peter's work focused on two related systems: high-temperature superconductors, and trapped, ultracold atomic gases. His thesis work, which he finished in the winter of 2014, focused on the pseudogap state of these systems, in which particles seem to form pairs at anomalously high temperatures. Peter also studied trapped atomic gases through simulations. Current experiments allow for many approaches to creating and probing non-equilibrium dynamics of these fluids, including observing the behavior of vortices and solitons. He was able to use simulations to correctly identify a puzzling object seen in experiments on clouds of ultracold fermionic atoms in 2013. This identification as a single vortex line, which depended on properly capturing symmetry-breaking disorder that is unavoidable experimentally, was independently verified by concurrent experiments.


2014 - Localized, Collective Excitations in Strongly Interacting Superfluids: Pseudovortices, Vortices, Solitons, and Their Physical Implications