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.


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.


We report on the capillary-driven leveling of a topographical perturbation at the surface of a freestanding liquid nanofilm. The width of a stepped surface profile is found to evolve as the square root of time. The hydrodynamic model is in excellent agreement with the experimental data. In addition to exhibiting an analogy with diffusive processes, this novel system serves as a precise nanoprobe for the rheology of liquids at interfaces in a configuration that avoids substrate effects.


In this paper, we propose a novel powerful strategy to perform searches for new electroweak states. Uncolored electroweak states appear in generic extensions of the Standard Model (SM) and yet are challenging to discover at hadron colliders. This problem is particularly acute when the lightest state in the electroweak multiplet is neutral and all multiplet components are approximately degenerate. In this scenario, production of the charged fields of the multiplet is followed by decay into nearly invisible states; if this decay occurs promptly, the only way to infer the presence of the reaction is through its missing energy signature. Our proposal relies on emission of photon radiation from the new charged states as a means of discriminating the signal from SM backgrounds. We demonstrate its broad applicability by studying two examples: a pure Higgsino doublet and an electroweak quintuplet field.


Dark Matter particles with inelastic interactions are ubiquitous in extensions of the Standard Model, yet remain challenging to fully probe with existing strategies. We propose a series of powerful searches at hadron and lepton colliders that are sensitive to inelastic dark matter dynamics. In representative models featuring either a massive dark photon or a magnetic dipole interaction, we find that the LHC and BABAR could offer strong sensitivity to the thermal relic dark matter parameter space for dark matter masses between ∼100 MeV and 100 GeV and fractional mass-splittings above the percent level; future searches at Belle II with a dedicated monophoton trigger could also offer sensitivity to thermal relic scenarios with masses below a few GeV. Thermal scenarios with either larger masses or splittings are largely ruled out; lower masses remain viable yet may be accessible with other search strategies.


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.


We propose new searches that exploit the unique signatures of decaying sterile neutrinos with masses below MW at the LHC, where they can be produced in rare decays of Standard Model gauge bosons. We show that, for few-GeV-scale sterile neutrinos, the LHC experiments can probe mixing angles at the level of \( 10^{-4} \)–\( 10^{-3} \) through powerful searches that look for a prompt lepton in association with a displaced lepton jet. For higher-mass sterile neutrinos, i.e., \( M_N \overset{>}{\sim} 15 \, \mathrm{GeV} \), run II can explore similarly small mixing angles in prompt multilepton final states. This represents an improvement of up to 2 orders of magnitude in sensitivity to the sterile neutrino production rate.


We probe the viscous relaxation of structured liquid droplets in the partial wetting regime using a diblock copolymer system. The relaxation time of the droplets is measured after a step change in temperature as a function of three tunable parameters: droplet size, equilibrium contact angle, and the viscosity of the fluid. Contrary to what is typically observed, the late-stage relaxation time does not scale with the radius of the droplet-rather, relaxation scales with the radius squared. Thus, the energy dissipation depends on the contact area of the droplet, rather than the contact line.


We report on how the relaxation of patterns prepared on a thin film can be controlled by manipulating the symmetry of the initial shape. The validity of a lubrication theory for the capillary-driven relaxation of surface profiles is verified by atomic force microscopy measurements, performed on films that were patterned using focused laser spike annealing. In particular, we observe that the shape of the surface profile at late times is entirely determined by the initial symmetry of the perturbation, in agreement with the theory. The results have relevance in the dynamical control of topographic perturbations for nanolithography and high density memory storage.

Recent Publications

Student authorFaculty author


Alejandro Ruiz, Alex Frano, Nicholas P. Breznay, Itamar Kimchi, Toni Helm, Iain Oswald, Julia Y. Chan, R. J. Birgeneau, Zahirul Islam, and James G. Analytis

Correlated States in \( \beta-\mathrm{Li}_2\mathrm{IrO}_3 \) Driven by Applied Magnetic Fields

Nature Communications 8 (2017) 961.
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Vatche Sahakian, Yossathorn Tawabutr, and Xinrui Yan

Emergent Spacetime & Quantum Entanglement in Matrix Theory

Journal of High Energy Physics 08 (2017) 140.

Mark Ilton, Miles M. P. Couchman, Cedric Gerbelot, Michael Benzaquen, Paul D. Fowler, Howard A. Stone, Elie Raphael, Kari Dalnoki-Veress, and Thomas Salez

Capillary Leveling of Freestanding Liquid Nanofilms

Physical Review Letters 117 (2016) .
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Brian Shuve and Michael E. Peskin

Revision of the LHCb Limit on Majorana Neutrinos

Physical Review D 94 (2016) 113007.

Ahmed Ismael, Eder Izaguirre, and Brian Shuve

Illuminating New Electroweak States at Hadron Colliders

Physical Review D 94 (2016) 015001.
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Eder Izaguirre, Gordan Krnjaic, and Brian Shuve

Discovering Inelastic Thermal Relic Dark Matter at Colliders

Physical Review D 93 (2016) 063523.
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Mark Ilton, Christian DiMaria, and Kari Dalnoki-Veress

Direct Measurement of the Critical Pore Size in a Model Membrane

Physics Review Letters 117 (2016) .
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Eder Izaguirre and Brian Shuve

Multilepton and Lepton Jet Probes of Sub-Weak-Scale Right-Handed Neutrinos

Physical Review D 91 (2015) 093010.
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Mark Ilton, Oliver Baeumchen, and Kari Dalnoki-Veress

Onset of Area-Dependent Dissipation in Droplet Spreading

Physical Review Letters 115 (2015) .

Michael Benzaquen, Mark Ilton, Michael V. Massa, Thomas Salez, Paul Fowler, Elie Raphael, and Kari Dalnoki-Veress

Symmetry plays a key role in the erasing of patterned surface features

Applied Physics Letters 107 (2015) .