Welcome to the Pierce Physics Laboratory webpages. We are a condensed matter physics research group in the
School of Physics and Astronomy at Rochester Institute of Technology. We study Nanoscale Materials, Surfaces, Interfaces, Disorder, Spontaneous Ordering, and Magnetism, using a combination of x-ray diffraction, coherent scattering, direct surface microscopy, and traditional surface science techniques. We perform science that, while academic and interesting in its own right, supports things such as cleaner burning reactions, electrocatalysis for fuel cells, CO2 sequestration, magnetic storage media and other technologically important fields. We try to perform science with a purpose.

What is Condensed Matter Physics?

Condensed Matter Physicists study matter and materials from familiar sizes down to the atomic scale. This field is often cross-disciplinary, examining a diverse spectrum of nature with a broad range of investigative techniques. However, at the core, it is the combination of quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and statistical physics. It strives to explain and predict cooperative phenomena in solids based on fundamental interactions between atoms or molecules. The kinds of physical systems studied range from basic solids and liquids, to more exotic kinds of matter that exhibit superconductivity, atomic spin-spin magnetic interactions, spontaneous ordering, and low dimensional systems. This intellectually interesting branch of physics is also at the heart of modern technology: advances in semiconductors, magnetic storage media, and clean energy technology all depend upon foundations in condensed matter physics.

Students can readily be included in research projects that prepare them for a wide range of future opportunities from graduate school, to industry or national laboratory positions, as well as entrepreneurial pursuits. Typically students will gain hands-on experience with a variety of modern laboratory tools (e.g., x-ray diffraction, microscopy, magnetometry, or UHV spectroscopy) that find broad application in many fields beyond just condensed matter physics. Faculty commonly collaborate with other researchers within RIT (such as the nano-Imaging Scanning Electron Microscopy facilities) as well as colleagues from national laboratories and industry.

Until we make our Wiki pages public, we’ll place a few things below that are useful.

  • SPEC (fourc, psic, etc…) command cheat sheet : a one-page print out of the most common and useful commands for the x-ray software SPEC. As always, if you don’t know what the command does, or the arguments, just type the blank command (or use “prdef ”).
  • Instructions on the x-ray interlock : Here is the step by step guide of the things necessary to get x-rays into the hutch. It doesn’t mean there are not additional things you need for your experiment, but it’s a list of things that you’ll have to do.

Recent Selected Publications

Andrew Loheac, Andi Barbour , Vladimir Komanicky, Chenhui Zhu , John Collini, Anthony Ruffino, Yihua Liu, Hoydoo You, and Michael S. Pierce, “Interaction of Molecular Oxygen with Au (001) Surface",
Journal of Physical Chemistry C 120, 23001-23008 (2016).

A. Barbour, A. Alatas, Y. Liu, B.M. Leu, X. Zhang, A. Sandy, M.S. Pierce, X. Wang, S-W Cheong, and H. You, “Partial glass isosymmetry transition in multiferroic hexagonal ErMnO3”.
Physical Review B 93, 054113 (2016).

Robert M. Karl Jr., Andi Barbour, Vladimir Komanicky, Chenhui Zhu, Alec Sandy, Michael S. Pierce, and Hoydoo You, “Charge-induced equilibrium dynamics and structure at the Ag(001)-electrolyte interface."
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 17, 16682-16687 (2015).

Chenhui Zhu, Ross Harder, Ana Diaz, Vladimir Komanicky, Andi Barbour, Ruqing Xu, Xiaojing Hunag, Yaohua Liu, Michael S. Pierce, Andreas Menzel, and Hoydoo You, “Ptychographic x-ray imaging of surfaces on crystal truncation rod."
Applied Physics Letters 106, 101604 (2015).

Pictures (main file) : Rochester Science Cafe, Feb. 23rd 2016 (Click Here)


Our laboratory and research efforts benefit from generous financial support from the
Research Corporation for Science Advancement and through an NSF supported REU program. We also receive support and user facility access at the national laboratories maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional internal support is provided by the RIT College of Science and School of Physics and Astronomy.

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