New Faculty: Xiaomeng Liu

Xiaomeng Liu

Assistant Professor, Physics

Academic focus: 

I study quantum materials. In these materials, the collective motion of a large number of electrons, combined with their quantum mechanical nature, gives rise to spectacular emergent properties that very often defy intuition. A classic example is superconductors, which can magically float above a magnet and allow electric currents to flow indefinitely without a power source. There is now a rich variety of quantum materials, ranging from frustrated magnets to topological states of matter, which could enable the next generation of technology, such as topological quantum computing. We create quantum materials in our lab and investigate their properties by probing their electrical properties and performing high-resolution imaging using a quantum microscope.

Current research project: 

My current focus is on 2D materials, which are crystals made of a single layer of atoms, such as graphene. What makes this field exciting is the ability to stack layers of the same or different 2D materials in a controlled manner, much like assembling a deck of cards. This unprecedented control over material structure enables us to design electron behaviors with precision. My work involves exploring new stacking arrangements of 2D materials to achieve novel quantum properties, such as superconductivity with new pairing mechanisms. In our lab, we create these samples and subject them to extremely low temperatures and, at times, high magnetic fields, to reveal their exciting quantum properties. We also use a very powerful tool - the scanning tunneling microscope - to image electron behaviors down to the atomic scale, in order to uncover hidden properties and gain a better understanding of how certain properties emerge.

Previous positions:

  • PCCM postdoctoral fellow, Department of Physics, Princeton University, 2019-2023

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., Physics, Harvard University, 2019
  • M.S., Applied physics, Columbia University, 2013
  • B.A., Physics, Peking University, 2012

Last book read:

"TIME 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Photos of All Time" by TIME

 In your own time/when not working:

A major hobby of mine is photography, which motivates me to travel to interesting places and wait for the magical moment when the perfect combination of subject, composition and light comes together, whether that is at sunrise, sunset or in the middle of the night. I also like watching movies, playing piano, skiing, skating and making things.

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Statistical Physics, Physics Lab and a class similar to "How to Make (almost) Anything" from MIT

What most excites you about Cornell:

Building up a lab, interacting with my colleagues, teaching and mentoring and photographing the waterfalls around Ithaca

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