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George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head
Nitin Samarth


  • M.S. (5yr Integrated) IIT Bombay (1980)
  • Ph.D. Purdue University (1986)

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (2019)
  • Chair, Division of Materials Physics, American Physical Society (2019)
  • Chair-elect, Division of Materials Physics, American Physical Society (2018)
  • Vice-chair, Division of Materials Physics, American Physical Society (2017)
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013).
  • George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head of Physics, Penn State (2011).
  • Outstanding Alumnus Award, Physics Dept., Purdue University (2008).
  • Faculty Scholar Medal in the Physical Sciences, Penn State (2008).
  • George W. Atherton Award for Teaching Excellence, Penn State (2007).
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (2003).
  • Society of Physics Students Annual Award for Excellence in Physics Teaching, Penn State (1993).

Research Interests

Research Interests

Synthesis of magnetic, semiconductor, superconductor and topological insulator nanostructures.

Quantum spintronics and coherent spin dynamics in mesoscopic and nanoscale geometries.

Collective spin phenomena in artificial frustrated magnets.

Searching for exotic broken symmetry surface states.


Current projects

  • National Science Foundation: "MRSEC: Center for Nanoscale Science." 
  • National Science Foundation: "MIP: 2D Crystal Consortium." 
  • Department of Energy/Johns Hopkins University: "EFRC: Institute for Quantum Matter" 
  • University of Chicago: "Quantum state creation and control in scalable two-dimensional systems
    for information processing and sensing"
  • National Science Foundation/Semiconductor Research Corporation/NIST/Univ. Minnesota: "Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies (SMART)"

Research group members

Research Professor: Anthony Richardella

Post-docs:  Yongxi Ou, Arpita Mitra

Graduate Students: Timothy Pillsbury, Jeffrey Rable, Run Xiao, Yanan Li, Wilson Yanez, Le Yi, Fan Zhang, Max Stanley, Yu-Sheng Huang 

Undergraduate students: Ben Piazza.


Graduate students: Ioulia Smorchkova, Ph.D. '97 [Northrup Grumman, Los Angeles]; Frank Flack, Ph.D. '98 [Univ. Wisconsin, Madison]; Oindrilla Ray, Ph.D. '00 [VueFolio, San Jose]; Robert Knobel, Ph.D. '00 [Queens University, Canada]; Joseph Berry, Ph.D. '01 [NREL, Golden, CO]; Keh-chiang Ku, Ph.D. '04 [Marvell Semiconductor]; Weihua Wang, Ph.D.'05 [Academica Sinica, Taiwan]; Gang Xiang, Ph.D. '06 [Schichuan Univ., China]; Xia Li, Ph.D. '07 [Apple, Cupertino]; Meng Zhu, Ph.D. '08 [Global Foundries, Albany]; William Fadgen, Ph.D. '08 [Quantum Design, Brazil]; Benjamin Cooley, Ph.D. '10 [Univ. Georgia]; Andrew Balk, Ph.D. '11 [Los Alamos National Lab]; Jing Liang, Ph.D. '12; Duming Zhang, Ph.D. '12 [Lam Research]; David Rench, Ph.D. '13 [Department of Energy]; Joon Sue Lee, Ph.D. '14 [Univ. Tenessee]; Abhinav Kandala, Ph.D. '15 [IBM Yorktown Heights]; Robert Fraleigh, Ph.D. '16 [Applied Research Lab, Penn State]; Yu Pan, Ph.D. '17 [Lam Research]; James Kally Ph.D. '17 [Intel], Eric Kamp, Ph.D '18 [Cree Inc.], Susan Kempinger Ph.D. '19 [North Central College], Di Xiao Ph.D. '19 [Purdue]

Postdocs: Seung-hyun Cheung [Sejong University, Korea]; Oleg Maksimov [ACHS]; Khalid Eid [Miami University, Ohio]; Partha Mitra [IISER Kolkatta, India]; Kriti Kohli [Global Foundries]; Hailong Wang [UCSD]. 

Undergraduate students: Grant Smith [BS '17, Chicago]Jacob Wisser [BS/MS '16, Stanford], Derek Sincavage [BS '16, Minnesota], Jacob Repicky [BS '15, Ohio State], David Hopper [BS '14, UPenn], Terence Bretz-Sullivan [BS'10, Ph.D. Minnesota], Jeremy Cardellino [BS'10, Ohio State], Tina Lin [BS '07, Ph.D. Harvard], David Lehr [BS '05],  David Issadore [BS'04, Ph.D. Harvard], Martin Olson [BS '99], Theodore Kisner [BS '98, Ph.D. UCSB], Lara Mangravite [BS '97, Ph.D. UCSF], Eylon Geva [BS '96],  Heather Hennessey [BS '95], Allen Hunt [BS '95, Ph.D. MIT]

Selected Publications

Nitin's Publications


  1. P. Li, J. Kally, S. S.-L. Zhang, T. Pillsbury, J. Ding, G. Csaba, J. Ding, J. S. Jiang, Y. Liu, R. Sinclair, C. Bi, A. DeMann, G. Rimal, W. Zhang, S. B. Field, J. Tang, W. Wang, O. G. Heinonen, V. Novosad, A. Hoffmann, N. Samarth, M. Wu, "Magnetization switching utilizing topological surface states," Sci. Adv. 5, eaaw3415 (2019).
  2. Hailong Wang, James Kally, Cüneyt Şahin, Tao Liu, Wilson Yanez, Eric J. Kamp, Anthony Richardella, Mingzhong Wu, Michael E. Flatté, and Nitin Samarth, “Fermi level dependent spin pumping from a magnetic insulator into a topological insulator,” Phys. Rev. Research 1, 012014(R) (2019).
  3. Di Xiao, Chao-xing Liu, Nitin Samarth, L. H. Hu, "Anomalous Quantum Oscillations of Interacting Electron-Hole Gases in Inverted Type-II  Quantum Wells", Phys. Rev. Lett. 122, 186802 (2019).
  4. Joon Sue Lee, Anthony Richardella, Robert D Fraleigh, Chao-xing Liu, Wei-wei Zhao, Nitin Samarth, "Engineering the breaking of time-reversal symmetry in gate-tunable hybrid ferromagnet/topological insulator heterostructures," npj Quantum Materials 3, 51 (2018).
  5. Di Xiao, Jue Jiang, Jae-Ho Shin, Wenbo Wang, Fei Wang, Yi-Fan Zhao, Chaoxing Liu, Weida Wu, Moses H. W. Chan, Nitin Samarth, and Cui-Zu Chang, “Realization of the Axion Insulator State in Quantum Anomalous Hall Sandwich Heterostructures,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 056801 (2018).
  6. Yang Lv, James Kally, Delin Zhang, Joon Sue Lee, Mahdi Jamali, Nitin Samarth & Jian-Ping Wang, "Unidirectional spin-Hall and Rashba−Edelstein magnetoresistance in topological insulator- ferromagnet layer heterostructures," Nature Communications 9, 111 (2018).
  7. Nitin Samarth, "Quantum materials discovery from a synthesis perspective," Nature Materials 16, 1068-1076 (2017).
  8. Andrew L. Yeats, Peter J. Mintun, Yu Pan,d, Anthony Richardella, Bob B. Buckley, Nitin Samarth, and David D. Awschalom, "Local optical control of ferromagnetism and chemical potential in a topological insulator," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, 10379-10383 (2017).
  9. Yu Pan, Qing-Ze Wang, Andrew L. Yeats, Timothy Pillsbury, Thomas C. Flanagan, Anthony Richardella, Haijun Zhang, David D. Awschalom, Chao-Xing Liu & Nitin Samarth, "Helicity dependent photocurrent in electrically gated (Bi1−xSbx)2Te3 thin films," Nature Communications 8, 1037 (2017).
  10. J. P. Heremans, R. J. Cava, and N. Samarth,  "Tetradymites as thermoelectrics and topological insulators,” Nature Reviews Materials vol. 2, art. no. 17049, 2017.
  11. Hailong Wang, James Kally, Joon Sue Lee, Tao Liu, Houchen Chang, Danielle Reifsnyder Hickey, K. Andre Mkhoyan, Mingzhong Wu, Anthony Richardella, and Nitin Samarth, "Surface-State-Dominated Spin-Charge Current Conversion in Topological-Insulator–Ferromagnetic-Insulator Heterostructures," Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 076601 (2016).
  12. Minhao Liu, Wudi Wang, Anthony Richardella, Abhinav Kandala, Jian Li, Ali Yazdani, Nitin Samarth, N. Phuan Ong, "Large discrete jumps observed in the transition between Chern states in a ferromagnetic topological insulator," Science Advances e1600167 (2016). 
  13. Ella O. Lachman, Andrea F. Young, Anthony Richardella, Jo Cuppens, H. R. Naren, Yonathan Anahory, Alexander Y. Meltzer, Abhinav Kandala, Susan Kempinger, Yuri Myasoedov, Martin E. Huber, Nitin Samarth, Eli Zeldov, "Visualization of superparamagnetic dynamics in magnetic topological insulators," Science Advances 1, e1500740 (2015).
  14. Andrew Yeats, Yu Pan, Anthony Richardella, Peter Mintun, Nitin Samarth, David D. Awschalom, "Persistent Optical Gating of a Topological Insulator," Science Advances 1, e1500640 (2015).
  15. Abhinav Kandala, Anthony Richardella, Susan Kempinger, Chao-xing Liu and Nitin Samarth, "Giant Anisotropic Magnetoresistance in a Quantum Anomalous Hall Insulator," Nature Communications 6, 7434 (2015).
  16. Su-Yang Xu, Nasser Alidoust, Ilya Belopolski, Anthony Richardella et al., "Momentum Space Imaging of Cooper Pairing in a Half-Dirac Gas," Nature Physics 10, 943-950 (2014).
  17. Qing-Ze Wang, Xin Liu, Hai-Jun Zhang, Nitin Samarth, Shou-Cheng Zhang, and Chao-Xing Liu, "Quantum Anomalous Hall Effect in Magnetically Doped InAs/GaSb Quantum Wells," Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 147201 (2014).
  18. A. R. Mellnik, J. S. Lee, A. Richardella, J. L. Grab, P. J. Mintun, M. H. Fischer, A. Vaezi, A. Manchon, E.-A. Kim, N. Samarth, D. C. Ralph, "Spin-transfer torque generated by a topological insulator," Nature 511, 449 (2014).
  19. M. Neupane, A. Richardella, et al., "Observation of Quantum-tunneling-modulated Spin Texture in Ultrathin Topological Insulator Bi2Se3 Thin Films," Nature Communications 5, 3841 (2014).
  20. A. Kandala, A. Richardella, D. M. Zhang, T. Flanagan and N. Samarth, “Surface Sensitive Two-dimensional Magneto-fingerprint in Mesoscopic Topological Insulator Channels,” Nano Letters 13, 2471 (2013). 
  21. S.-Y. Xu, M. Neupane, C. Liu, D. M. Zhang, A. Richardella, L. Wray, N. Alidoust, M. Leandersson, T. Balasubramanian, J. Sanchez-Barrig, O. Rader, G. Landolt, B. Slomski, J. Hugo Dil, J. Osterwalder, T. Chang, H. Jeng, H. Lin, A. Bansil, N. Samarth and M. Hasan, “Hedgehog spin texture and Berry's phase tuning in a magnetic topological insulator”Nature Phys. 8, 616–622 (2012). 
  22. A. L. Balk, M. E. Nowakowski, M. J.Wilson, D. W. Rench, P. Schiffer, D. D. Awschalom and N. Samarth, “Measurements of Nanoscale Domain Wall Flexing in a Ferromagnetic Thin Film,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 077205 (2011). 
  23. R. F. Wang, C. Nisoli, R. S. Freitas, J. Li, W. McConville, B. Cooley, M. S. Lund, N. Samarth, C. Leighton, V. H. Crespi and P. Schiffer, “Artificial ’spin ice’ in a geometrically frustrated lattice of nanoscale ferromagnetic islands,” Nature 439, 303–306 (2006).  
  24. S. Ghosh, W. H. Wang, F. M. Mendoza, R. C. Myers, X. Li, N. Samarth, A. C. Gossard, and D. D. Awschalom, “Enhancement of Spin Coherence using Q-factor Engineering in Semiconductors Microdiscs,” Nature Materials 5, 261-265 (2006).
  25. A. H. MacDonald, P. Schiffer and N. Samarth, “Ferromagnetic semiconductors: moving beyond (Ga,Mn)As,” Nature Materials 4, 195–202 (2005). 
  26. D. D. Awschalom, D. D., M. Flatte and N. Samarth, “Spintronics,” Scientific American (June 2002).
  27. I. Malajovich, J. J. Berry, N. Samarth, and D. D. Awschalom, “Persistent Sourcing of Coherent Spins For Multifunctional Spintronics,” Nature (London) 411, 770-772 (2001).
  28. J. A. Gupta, R. Knobel, N. Samarth, and D. D. Awschalom, “Ultrafast manipulation of electron spin coherence,” Science 292, 2458-2461 (2001). 
  29. J. M. Kikkawa, I. P. Smorchkova, N. Samarth and D. D. Awschalom, “Room- temperature Spin Memory in Two-dimensional Electron Gases,” Science 277, 1284-1287 (1997).