Vidya Madhavan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, EPiQS Experimental Investigator


Probing the unusual electronic properties of atomically thin quantum materials using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopic techniques.

Vidya Madhavan

Research Description

Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) is a versatile imaging technique with sub-atomic spatial resolution that allows us to peer into the world of solids to better understand their underlying structure and properties. My group utilizes STM techniques to probe the unusual electronic behavior that emerges in bulk and ultra-thin films of quantum materials. The complex electron interactions in these materials lead to emergent properties which often show strong spatial variations that are hard to probe by conventional spatially averaged techniques. In my lab we develop new instrumentation that combines the advantages of STM with other measurement approaches to advance our understanding of these exotic materials. Our goal is to develop the tools that will allow us to explore and manipulate the electronic properties of these material systems by applying strain or an electric field, for instance, while simultaneously performing STM measurements.

Currently, we are developing a technique that combines the high-resolution capabilities of STM with light excitation for a range of excitation frequencies, from infrared to terahertz. Since many materials we are working with require experimental techniques that can cover excitations in the terahertz range, this tool will expand our ability to monitor elusive non-equilibrium electron dynamics and quantum critical phenomena. We are interested in applying the photon-STM technique to unconventional monolayer superconductors to elucidate the nature of the electron pairing mechanism. More generally, new measurement techniques like photon-STM will allow us to probe elusive and exotic electronic behaviors that only exist in the realm of solid-state physics. Understanding these complex systems may ultimately allow scientists to improve their control over quantum matter.


related links

Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Science University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Physics Back


Undergraduate degree in Metallurgical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India
Master of technology in solid state materials, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India
Ph.D., Physics, Boston University
Postdoctoral appointment, University of California, Berkeley

Affiliated Investigators