Craig Fennie, assistant professor of applied and engineering physics (AEP), working with graduate students.

Our interests lie at the intersection of Materials Physics and Solid State Chemistry.

Broadly characterized our work is centered on the use of first-principles informed theory to elucidate the principles that govern the relationship between the structure and the macroscopic behavior of complex materials in which lattice, magnetic, orbital, and/or electronic dofs are active.

We are fascinated by systems in which understanding the structural complexity is key to explaining their macroscopic properties and in particular by systems where chemical intuition often breaks down.

“What I can not create, I do not understand”- Richard Feymann.

Written on his “Last Blackboards” when he died, Feynman’s quote is surprising when considering the usual approach in materials physics. It is our strong believe that until we can start with a Hamiltonian and create a realization, we truly do not understand the fundamentals of the problem.

In this regard we are particularly interested in understanding how the composition, symmetry, geometry, and topology of crystalline motifs influence the interplay among the active degrees-of-freedom, how this subsequently manifests itself in the macroscopic properties, and if this interplay can be controlled so as to produce “designer” properties and functionalities.


We acknowledge the generous support of our present and past sponsors: Dept of Energy SISGR program; Cornell Center for Materials Research a NSF MRSEC; EMC2 a DOE EFRC; Penn State Center for Nanoscale Science; Army Research Office; NSF CAREER.