[PAST EVENT] David James Lahneman, Physics - Final Oral Dissertation Defense [Zoom]

March 25, 2021
1pm - 4pm
David Lahneman

David James Lahneman , Physics - Final Oral Dissertation Defense

Meeting ID: 943 4027 4010 Passcode: available upon request. Please email Ellie at [[evwilk]].

Title: Light Matter Interactions in Quasi-Two-Dimensional Geometries

Abstract: Emergent phenomena that occur at length scales smaller than approximately half the wavelength of light cannot be resolved by conventional optical techniques due to the Abbe diffraction limit. Scattering-type Scanning Near-field Infrared Microscopy (S-SNIM) can circumvent this diffraction limit allowing infrared spectroscopy at nano-scale dimensions independent of the wavelength. Additionally, there is enhanced surface sensitivity resulting from this nanoconfinement of infrared light. S-SNIM is uniquely suitable to study a diverse range of material properties inaccessible by far-field optics in the infrared such as the optical properties of ultrathin films as well as hybrid light matter surface waves called polaritons. Initially, this work describes a broadband infrared plasma light source that has been developed and implemented in our S-SNIM setup to realize broadband S-SNIM in the far- and mid-infrared. This system is then utilized to investigate propagating surface phonon polaritons (SPhPs) in bulk Strontium Titanate (STO). STO is a perovskite polar dielectric that has a uniquely broad range of the far-infrared in which it can support SPhPs while already having a diverse range of technologically advantageous properties. This work opens the door to envisage STO as a platform for perovskite-based broadband far-infrared and terahertz nano-photonics.

Finally, the insulator to metal transition (IMT) in ultrathin vanadium dioxide (VO2) films is investigated. An IMT is an emergent characteristic of quantum materials. When the IMT occurs in materials with interacting electronic and lattice degrees of freedom, it is often difficult to determine if the energy gap in the insulating state is formed by Mott electron-electron correlations or by Peierls charge-density wave (CDW) ordering. To solve this problem, we investigate a representative material, VO2, which exhibits strong electron-electron interactions as well as CDW (Peierls) ordering. Ultrathin VO2 films on rutile (001) TiO2 substrates have been fabricated. These VO2 films undergo the IMT without the CDW (Peierls) ordering. Infrared and optical measurements discover the Mott-Hubbard semiconductor gap of 0.6 eV in the rutile phase below Tc ? 306 K. Above Tc, A Drude feature along with an increase in the optical conductivity due to a Mott IMT is observed. These results establish the route to a purely electronic IMT with profound implications for fundamental and applied studies of this phenomenon

Bio: David Lahneman was born in Oakland, California and grew up in Maryland just east of Washington, D.C. After graduating high school he enlisted as a reservist in the United States Air Force working as a technician fixing computer systems in the A10-C fighter. While working as a reservist he attended Towson University and in 2014 he received his B.S. in Physics along with a Mathematics Minor. In the same year he came to William & Mary to continue his studies in Physics. Since joining Prof. Mumtaz Qazilbash's group, he has been using infrared photons to investigate the physics of exotic materials at nanometer length scales.