Ilias Perakis joined UAB in 2015 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) recognized “for contributions to the many-body theory of the coherent optical properties of semiconductors and metals.” He received the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1997 and has been honored with a Faculty Research Participation Award at Oakridge National Laboratory.
In 1995, Ilias joined the faculty of the Department of Physics at Vanderbilt University, where he still maintains an affiliate appointment. In 2000, he returned to his birthplace in the south of Greece to serve as Professor in the Department of Physics of the University of Crete. There, he also served as Chair of the Department of Materials Science & Technology and Associate Chair of the Department of Physics, where he directed Undergraduate Studies and coordinated the undergraduate student Internship and High-school Apprentice Teaching programs. Dr. Perakis has held numerous professional and academic positions, including Visiting Professorships at Oakridge National Laboratory, the Louis Pasteur University and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Strasbourg France, and the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser at the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) in Crete. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, The Department of Energy-Basic Energy Sciences, and the European Union. He now leads UAB-Physics as it becomes an internationally recognized center of excellence, where novel lasers, extreme pressure and magnetic field conditions, and advanced computation are used to answer the grand challenges of advanced quantum and nanoscale materials.
B.S., National Technical University of Athens, Greece, Electrical Engineering M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Physics Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Physics Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University, Department of Physics Postdoctoral Member of AT&T Bell Laboratories Theory Division
What happens when quantum materials are excited far from equilibrium by intense and ultra-short laser pulses? How can complex non-equilibrium phenomena and metastable quantum phases emerge from simple ingredients in this case? How can we harness quantum mechanical coherence in Light and Matter? How will quantum information technology, materials genome initiative, and photonics revolutions be extended going forward? Dr. Perakis’ research addresses these big questions, recognized as national initiatives of critical importance, which present transformative opportunities that will shape our future. He advances theory and computation for Ultrafast Quantum Manipulation of Advanced Quantum and Complex Materials for fundamental Physics and next-generation-device applications. Ilias and his students use non-equilibrium quantum theory and density matrix equations of motion to design and interpret experiments that take advantage of state-of-the-art ultrafast spectroscopy tools allowing an unprecedented temporal, spectral, and spatial resolution into quantum materials. His most recent work searches for transient phases accessed far from equilibrium following femtosecond quantum quench of the fundamental energy gap of superconductors by terahertz laser pulses. Fascinating non-equilibrium phenomena emerge in such complex systems from the collective behavior of electronic charge and spin and its interplay with the underlying crystal and non-adiabatic light-matter coupling. Lightwave Electronics, Switching applications at the fundamental speed limit, and quantum engineering of multifunctional devices can emerge from this work, with quantum information and other applications. At the same time, advanced computing is at the core of these research activities.
Ilias was one of the first theorists to point out the important role of non-adiabatic time-dependent correlations in ultrafast coherent nonlinear optical spectroscopy studies of many-electron quantum materials. Starting in the mid 1990’s, he pointed out the role of laser-induced non-equilibrium quantum dynamics in two-dimensional electron gases under high magnetic fields and in small metal nanoparticles. He also published the first papers on control of femtosecond spin-orbit-torques, spin-torques, and quantum magnetism by laser pulses. Ilias' other passion is communicating STEM to the general public and his students through innovation. He has designed an innovative active-learning environment where his students try to figure out who is Bobo. He has also designed a Scientist Citizen Initiative.
1. Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics, with emphasis on emergent non-equilibrium phenomena 2. Computational Physics and Advanced Materials Science, with emphasis on simulation of non-equilibrium phenomena and time-dependent nonlinear interactions 3. Optical, Electronic, Topological, Photonic, Transport, and Magnetic properties of Quantum Materials and Superconductors 4. Theory and Computation of ultra-strong and non-adiabatic light-matter interactions and Lightwave Terahertz Electronics 5. Theory of Quantum Sensing, Imaging, Transduction, and Control of Quantum Materials and Collective Modes for Quantum Information Science 6. Design of Non-equilibrium Advanced Materials Phases using Electromagnetic fields
Physics via Concept Grinders: I designed an innovative, fully interactive freshman physics unconventional course with a three-fold purpose: (1) acquisition of deeper knowledge on science concepts and misconceptions (content knowledge), (2) development of scientific explaining skills (substantive knowledge), and (3) enhancement of arguing skills (syntactic knowledge). During the semester, students must discover who a fictitious character named “Bobo” is and how to talk to him so that he can understand Physics-based STEM concepts in order to be able to grade their exam. In addition to designing a successful tool for developing students’ complex skills (explaining, argumentative, and critical thinking abilities) and for motivating students about STEM, this course can be part of a training program for prospective high-school teachers. Success in meeting the stated goals was documented by the PhD dissertation of Dr. F. Chaimala at the School of Education of the University of Southampton. The results of this project were presented at various science education international conferences
Scientist Citizen: I introduced, designed, and coordinated a Scientist Citizen interdisciplinary course for students from all Schools and Departments. This course includes public lectures from prominent experts that discuss some pressing scientific and ethics issues under national debate that affect modern society and make headlines (e.g. economy, science ethics, pollution, food and water shortage, global warming, nuclear weapons and energy, etc.). At the same time, we address issues of how to effectively communicate scientific facts to the general public. For the course grade, students act as reporters that talk to the lecturers and gather material in order to write (1) a newspaper article addressed to the general public and (2) a scientifically-structured paper. Both have to be on the same topic, but discussed from two different angles.