Ilya Vekhter

Associate Professor
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
Louisiana State University
Research interests:

My group studies emergent phenomena in electronic systems. The concept of collective, or emergent, behavior is central to modern science: most of the world around us exhibits properties that its individual components do not show. Rigidity of solids, ability of metals to conduct electricity or heat do not have atomic (or subatomic) counterparts: individual atoms are not rigid in the same sense as a wall is. These qualities emerge only when a large number of atoms interact with one another. Similar phenomena occur in the electronic properties: we know everything about a single isolated electron, but once many electrons start "talking" to each other, novel phenomena appear. Condensed matter physics is at the forefront of understanding the emergent behavior.

In metals many novel phenomena arise due to interactions between electrons that originally belonged to different atoms. Superconductivity (the ability of a metal to conduct electrical current without losses, now used in magnets for MRI imaging, in filters for telecommunication equipment, and in levitating high-speed trains, among other applications) and magnetic order (think refrigerator magnets) are two examples of such collective effects. We are developing models of systems where new electronic phenomena arise due to strong electronic correlations, and work with experimental groups to test the predictions of the theory and develop new understanding of real materials.

Currently our research focuses on the studies of heavy fermion superconductors, materials with no inversion symmetry, and quantum critical phenomena.