# Recent Publications

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Hydrodynamic slip, the motion of a liquid along a solid surface, represents a fundamental phenomenon in fluid dynamics that governs liquid transport at small scales. For polymeric liquids, de Gennes predicted that the Navier boundary condition together with polymer reptation implies extraordinarily large interfacial slip for entangled polymer melts on ideal surfaces; this Navier-de Gennes model was confirmed using dewetting experiments on ultra-smooth, low-energy substrates. Here, we use capillary leveling-surface tension driven flow of films with initially non-uniform thickness-of polymeric films on these same substrates. Measurement of the slip length from a robust one parameter fit to a lubrication model is achieved. We show that at the low shear rates involved in leveling experiments as compared to dewetting ones, the employed substrates can no longer be considered ideal. The data is instead consistent with a model that includes physical adsorption of polymer chains at the solid/liquid interface.

Honeycomb iridates such as $\gamma$-Li2IrO3 are argued to realize Kitaev spin-anisotropic magnetic exchange, along with Heisenberg and possibly other couplings. While systems with pure Kitaev interactions are candidates to realize a quantum spin-liquid ground state, in $\gamma$-Li2IrO3 it has been shown that the presence of competing magnetic interactions leads to an incommensurate spiral spin order at ambient pressure below 38 K. We study the pressure sensitivity of this magnetically ordered state in single crystals of $\gamma$-Li2IrO3 using resonant x-ray scattering (RXS) under applied hydrostatic pressures of up to 3 GPa. RXS is a direct probe of electronic order, and we observe the abrupt disappearance of the q sp=(0.57, 0, 0) spiral order at a critical pressure Pc= 1.4 GPa with no accompanying change in the symmetry of the lattice.

Electrons confined to two dimensions display an unexpected diversity of behaviors as they are cooled to absolute zero. Noninteracting electrons are predicted to eventually “localize” into an insulating ground state, and it has long been supposed that electron correlations stabilize only one other phase: superconductivity. However, many two-dimensional (2D) superconducting materials have shown surprising evidence for metallic behavior, where the electrical resistivity saturates in the zero-temperature limit; the nature of this unexpected metallic state remains under intense scrutiny. We report electrical transport properties for two disordered 2D superconductors, indium oxide and tantalum nitride, and observe a magnetic field–tuned transition from a true superconductor to a metallic phase with saturated resistivity. This metallic phase is characterized by a vanishing Hall resistivity, suggesting that it retains particle-hole symmetry from the disrupted superconducting state.

Two methods of quantifying the spatial resolution of a camera are described, performed, and compared, with the objective of designing an imaging-system experiment for students in an undergraduate optics laboratory. With the goal of characterizing the resolution of a typical digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, we motivate, introduce, and show agreement between traditional test-target contrast measurements and the technique of using Fourier analysis to obtain the modulation transfer function (MTF). The advantages and drawbacks of each method are compared. Finally, we explore the rich optical physics at work in the camera system by calculating the MTF as a function of wavelength and f-number. For example, we find that the Canon 40D demonstrates better spatial resolution at short wavelengths, in accordance with scalar diffraction theory, but is not diffraction-limited, being significantly affected by spherical aberration. The experiment and data analysis routines described here can be built and written in an undergraduate optics lab setting.

We study the two-dimensional superconductor-insulator transition (SIT) in thin films of tantalum nitride. At zero magnetic field, films can be disorder-tuned across the SIT by adjusting thickness and film stoichiometry; insulating films exhibit classical hopping transport. Superconducting films exhibit a magnetic-field-tuned SIT, whose insulating ground state at high field appears to be a quantum-corrected metal. Scaling behavior at the field-tuned SIT shows classical percolation critical exponents \( z ν \approx 1.3 \), with a corresponding critical field \( H_c \ll H_{c2} \), the upper critical field. The Hall effect exhibits a crossing point near \( H_c \), but with a nonuniversal critical value \( ρ_{xy}^{c} \) comparable to the normal-state Hall resistivity. We propose that high-carrier-density metals will always exhibit this pattern of behavior at the boundary between superconducting and (trivially) insulating ground states.

In the context of the Bank-Fishler-Shenker-Susskind Matrix theory, we analyze a spherical membrane in light-cone M theory along with two asymptotically distant probes. In the appropriate energy regime, we find that the membrane behaves like a smeared Matrix black hole; and the spacetime geometry seen by the probes can become non-commutative even far away from regions of Planckian curvature. This arises from nonlinear Matrix interactions where fast matrix modes lift a flat direction in the potential — akin to the Paul trap phenomenon in atomic physics. In the regime where we do have a notion of emergent spacetime, we show that there is non-zero entanglement entropy between supergravity modes on the membrane and the probes. The computation can easily be generalized to other settings, and this can help develop a dictionary between entanglement entropy and local geometry — similar to Ryu-Takayanagi but instead for asymptotically flat backgrounds.

Direct experimental investigations of the low-energy electronic structure of the \( \mathrm{Na_2 IrO_3} \) iridate insulator are sparse and draw two conflicting pictures. One relies on flat bands and a clear gap, the other involves dispersive states approaching the Fermi level, pointing to surface metallicity. Here, by a combination of angle-resolved photoemission, photoemission electron microscopy, and x-ray absorption, we show that the correct picture is more complex and involves an anomalous band, arising from charge transfer from Na atoms to Ir-derived states. Bulk quasiparticles do exist, but in one of the two possible surface terminations the charge transfer is smaller and they remain elusive.

The complex antiferromagnetic orders observed in the honeycomb iridates are a double-edged sword in the search for a quantum spin-liquid: both attesting that the magnetic interactions provide many of the necessary ingredients, while simultaneously impeding access. Focus has naturally been drawn to the unusual magnetic orders that hint at the underlying spin correlations. However, the study of any particular broken symmetry state generally provides little clue about the possibility of other nearby ground states. Here we use magnetic fields approaching 100 tesla to reveal the extent of the spin correlations in \( \gamma \)-lithium iridate. We find that a small component of field along the magnetic easy-axis melts long-range order, revealing a bistable, strongly correlated spin state. Far from the usual destruction of antiferromagnetism via spin polarization, the high-field state possesses only a small fraction of the total iridium moment, without evidence for long-range order up to the highest attainable magnetic fields.

Magnetic honeycomb iridates are thought to show strongly spin-anisotropic exchange interactions which, when highly frustrated, lead to an exotic state of matter known as the Kitaev quantum spin liquid. However, in all known examples these materials magnetically order at finite temperatures, the scale of which may imply weak frustration. Here we show that the application of a relatively small magnetic field drives the three-dimensional magnet \( \beta-\mathrm{Li}_2\mathrm{IrO}_3 \) from its incommensurate ground state into a quantum correlated paramagnet. Interestingly, this paramagnetic state admixes a zig-zag spin mode analogous to the zig-zag order seen in other Mott-Kitaev compounds. The rapid onset of the field-induced correlated state implies the exchange interactions are delicately balanced, leading to strong frustration and a near degeneracy of different ground states.

We study pore nucleation in a model membrane system, a freestanding polymer film. Nucleated pores smaller than a critical size close, while pores larger than the critical size grow. Holes of varying size were purposefully prepared in liquid polymer films, and their evolution in time was monitored using optical and atomic force microscopy to extract a critical radius. The critical radius scales linearly with film thickness for a homopolymer film. The results agree with a simple model which takes into account the energy cost due to surface area at the edge of the pore. The energy cost at the edge of the pore is experimentally varied by using a lamellar-forming diblock copolymer membrane. The underlying molecular architecture causes increased frustration at the pore edge resulting in an enhanced cost of pore formation.

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