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An experimental physicist, I am currently a professor of physics at the University of California, Davis, and a research associate in the Physics Department at Harvard University.

In the field of condensed matter physics, my career has focused on the realm of strongly correlated quantum materials and novel approaches to image their electronic structure. From heavy fermions to cuprate high temperature superconductors (HTSC) I have identified new states of quantum matter, exposed mechanisms of phase competition, broken symmetries, and topological transitions. I developed the first milliKelvin Scanning Josephson Tunneling Microscope (SJTM) to directly visualize the Cooper-pair condensate density in unconventional superconductors at the nanometer scale. This innovation led to the first direct detection and visualization of a spatially modulated electronic superfluid in any condensed matter system.  I was awarded the Lee-Osheroff-Richardson prize for this work. Recently, I expanded upon my visualization methods for heavy fermions and found the telltale signature of an intrinsic topological phase deriving from strong correlations, the f-electron Dirac in-gap surface states of SmB6

Visualizing Quantum Electronic Matter

Whether mapping out the primordial cosmic glow or tracing the path of elementary particles in giant accelerators, visually engaging the universe at all length scales is an immensely powerful way to gain insight into the physical laws of the natural world.  On the quantum scale where atoms coalesce and bind, their emergent behavior gives rise to new states of matter.  In solids, electrons, elementary particles of nature, and their strong electromagnetic interactions produce some of the most complex phases containing electron liquids, magnetic lattices, superfluids, electronic glasses, fractional charges, massive particles, topological states, and all possibilities of their intertwining.  Each phase derives from a unique and typically unknown organization of almost innumerable electrons governed by quantum mechanical laws.  The capability to directly visualize their collective arrangements and their emergent behavior would give a powerfully positioned perspective to identify the underlying interactions leading to their unique phase.  It is exactly with this vantage point that spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microscopy (SI-STM) serves to explore the quantum realm of electronic matter.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Iran, Isfahan is where I spent the first six years of my life before immigrating to Canada with my family. Growing up in Toronto, I began my science career at the University of Toronto pursuing undergraduate studies in Engineering Science and mathematics. Specializing in the field of engineering physics, my early research included experimental work on the forward calorimeter of the ATLAS project at C.E.R.N. and theoretical work for my senior thesis on group theoretic methods for quantum dynamical problems. I continued with theoretical physics at Toronto earning a Masters degree in the study of the ocean dynamics of the El-Niño Southern Oscillation and the application of solitary wave theory to describe the phenomenon.  In 2005 I moved to Ithaca, New York and began my Ph.D. work at Cornell University under the guidance of Professor J.C. Séamus Davis in the field of strongly correlated electronic materials.  My post-doctoral work led me to Harvard University to collaborate with Professor Jennifer Hoffman on topological materials.

Education

  • Ph.D. in Physics 2011


    Thesis: Imaging the Realm of the Strongly Correlated: Visualizing Heavy Fermion Formation and the Impact of Kondo Holes

    Cornell University, Physics Department

  • M.Sc in Physics 2005

    Thesis: A Solitary Wave Theory for the El-Niño Southern Oscillation

    University of Toronto, Physics Department

  • B.A.Sc in Applied Science – Engineering Science
 2004

    Thesis: Solving Quantum Dynamical Problems through Representation of Lie Algebras

    University of Toronto, School of Applied Science and Engineering

Awards

  • 2016
    Lee-Osheroff-Richardson Science Prize
    For contributions to mK-STM technology and development of Scanned-Josephson-Tunneling Microscopy (SJTM) leading to observation of Cooper-Pair Density Wave in cuprate high temperature superconductors. (link)

    Description from the Cornell Chronicle, Harvard Physics

  • 2005
    Cornell Feynman Prize

    Cornell University Physics Department Award for Undergraduate Teaching.