Call for Proposals for Future Schools

Each year the Board of Directors will select a topic or topics for the school from proposals made by the community. If you have suggestions for topics and/or people to organize the schools, please send us an email at: The proposals do not need to be highly formal, just a brief list of topics, the physics motivations, and possible organizers and suggestions for a few key lecturers to contact.

We list below some of the example topics included in our proposal to the NSF. This set of possible school topics is far from exhaustive. Other possible topics that could be considered for schools include: quantum optics of materials, mechanical and structural properties of materials, polymers, complex fluids and polyelectrolytes, biomaterials and biologically inspired physics, and quantum computation.

Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics

  • Fundamental Concepts: long-time dynamics of quenched systems, avalanches and the long-time behavior of driven systems, pattern formation, front propagation and shapes.
  • Growth of Films and Solids: Cahn-Hilliard Theory, surface energetics and step dynamics, realistic modeling of film growth.
  • Friction, Fracture and Adhesion: earthquakes and geophysics, bonding, adhesion and crazing, sandpiles: statics and dynamics.
  • Self-Assembly: GaAs quantum dots from wet chemistry, polymer systems, thin films.

Nanoscale Physics

  • Nanoscale Magnetism: quantum tunneling of magnetic domains, magnetic Mn cluster molecules, atomic scale magnetic thin films, fundamental limits of magnetic recording.
  • Semiconductor Quantum Dots and Wires: optical properties, quantum dot and wire lasers, electronic correlations, superconducting pairing and fluctuations, energy level statistics, disorder and interactions.
  • Micro-mechanics: first-principles computation of mechanical properties at nanoscales, classical and quantum mechanics of small cantilever oscillators.
  • Scanning Probes: STM and AFM probes of surfaces and structures, molecular assembly, reaction dynamics studies with STM, scanning SQUID probes, near-field optical probes.
  • Carbon nanotubes: electronic properties, dopants, topological defects, transport, correlations, persistent currents.

Electron Correlations and Materials Properties

  • Fundamental Concepts: Mott Transition; Kondo problem; Quantum Critical Phenomena; Luttinger Liquids.
  • Electron-hole liquid and laser physics: excitonic insulator/super-conductor; nonequilibrium electron-hole plasma; microcavities and chaotic fluctuations; coupling to radiation.
  • Quantum dots and the mesoscopic-macroscopic transition: mesoscopic superconductivity; level statistics and quantum dot spectroscopy; linear and nonlinear transport.
  • Oxides: manganites, titanates, cuprates; ferroelectricity, half metallicity and magnetoresistance, electrical and thermal transport; optical properties, charge ordering.
  • Spin-dependent transport and ‘spin electronics’.

Applied Physics of Novel Materials

Condensed matter physics invents new devices on a regular basis. This summer school would describe how these devices work. This is useful background for students who wish to use such devices, and are interested in possibilities for new devices. This material is largely available in textbooks, but is not a course taught at most U.S. universities.

  • Semiconductor Devices: semiconductor energy bands, semiconductor properties, interfaces, semiconductor diodes: p-n junctions, etc., MOSFETs, etc.; thermoelectrics, polycrystalline properties, varistors; solid state lasers.
  • Superconducting and Single Electron Devices: Josephson junctions, electrical engineering with superconducting resonators and strip lines, SQUIDS, charging effects in low capacitance junctions, macroscopic quantum tunneling of phase and flux, superconducting logic devices, quantum and classical computing.
  • Liquid Crystals: basic physics of soft matter: novel phases and phase transitions, quenched disorder, complex behavior of structured fluids; technology: LCD display technologies, current and future.

Bio-informatics and Genetic Networks

Bio-informatics is a (rapidly developing) method of acquisition of biological knowledge from the growing body of laboratory data generated by sequencing of genomes and by the gene-chip technology. It is capable in principle of addressing both practical and fundamental questions (from functional identification of genes to understanding of gene interactions and hence control of cell function and development). As a field of study it has a natural appeal to physicists with an interest in biology and a background in statistical mechanics and computation. The goal of the school would be to facilitate such a student’s entry into the field by: (a) familiarizing the student with the existing methods and the types of available data; and (b) providing the student with context of the fundamental questions pertaining to the functional organization of the cell. Possible topics of focus:

  • Statistical and computational aspects of sequence comparison. ‘Sequence to function’ methods. Homology. Phylogenetic studies.
  • Basic genetic mechanisms. Mutation and dominant modes of gene evolution.
  • Genetic networks. Control of gene expression in pro- and eukaryots.
  • Experimental studies of gene expression: e.g. yeast cell cycle. Methods and issues in the analysis of gene-chip data.