Selected Awards and Fellowships
Dr. Jonathan B. Curtis
Jonathan joined the Narang Lab in fall of 2020 as a Harvard Quantum Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow. He received his B.S./B.A. at University of Rochester in Physics and Math and his Ph.D. at University of Maryland, College Park in Physics. At Maryland, he worked on a range of topics in condensed matter and AMO physics, including cavity control of superconductors, ultra-cold atomic gases, and quantum optics. At Harvard, he worked to understand how light interacts with quantum matter and how this can be used to gain understanding and control over quantum materials.
At UCLA he is continuing this work, focusing primarily on nonequilibrium dynamics of quantum materials induced by intense electromagnetic radiation, the optics of two-dimensional quantum materials like graphene, and quantum optics and cavity quantum electrodynamics of solid-state systems.
Fun fact: In between calculations, Jonathan enjoys exercising, playing music, eating food, and drinking vast amounts of coffee.
Uncovering pathways to optically drive magnetic order-disorder transitions on ultrashort timescales can lead to the realization of novel out-of-equilibrium quantum phenomena. A long-sought pathway is to directly excite a highly nonthermal energy-momentum distribution of magnons, bypassing both charge and lattice degrees of freedom. However, this remains elusive owing to the weak coupling and large momentum mismatch between photons and magnons. Here we demonstrate strong parametric excitation of magnons across the entire Brillouin zone of the antiferromagnetic insulator Sr2Cu3O4Cl2 by periodically modulating the superexchange interaction with the electric field of light. The excitation efficiency is greatly enhanced by tuning to the van Hove singularity in the magnon spectrum, sufficient to transiently collapse the antiferromagnetic state using a pulsed laser field of 109 V/m. The order parameter recovery timescale increases by over 1000 times as a function of excitation density, reflecting a crossover from high- to low-energy magnon dominated decay dynamics. This electric-field induced parametric magnon pumping mechanism is applicable to a broad range of magnetic insulators and opens up the possibility of dynamically engineering magnon distributions by design. Read the full article here!
- Abstract Magnons are quantized collective spin-wave excitations in magnetically ordered materials. Revealing the interactions among these collective modes is crucial for the understanding of fundamental many-body effects in such systems and the development of high-speed information transport and processing devices based on them. Nevertheless, identifying couplings between individual magnon modes remains a long-standing challenge. Here we demonstrate spectroscopic fingerprints of anharmonic coupling between distinct magnon modes in an antiferromagnet, as evidenced by coherent photon emission at the sum and difference frequencies of the two modes. This discovery is enabled by driving two magnon modes coherently with a pair of tailored terahertz fields and then disentangling a mixture of nonlinear responses with different origins. Our approach provides a route for generating nonlinear magnon–magnon mixing. Read the full article here!
- Abstract Excitation and nonlinear control of lattice vibrations with light has become a powerful method to manipulate the properties of quantum materials out of equilibrium. Generalizing from coherent phonon–phonon interactions to nonlinear couplings among other types of collective mode would open additional opportunities to design the dynamic properties of solids. For example, the collective excitations of magnetic order—magnons—can carry information with little energy dissipation, and their coherent and nonlinear control would provide an attractive route to achieve collective-mode-based information processing and storage in forthcoming spintronics and magnonics. Here we discover that intense terahertz fields can initiate the processes of magnon upconversion mediated by an intermediate magnetic resonance. By utilizing two-dimensional terahertz polarimetry, we demonstrate the unidirectional nature of coupling between distinct magnon modes of a canted antiferromagnet. The calculations of spin dynamics further suggest that this coupling is a universal feature of antiferromagnets with canted magnetic moments. These results demonstrate a route to induce desirable energy transfer pathways and a terahertz-induced coupling between coherent magnons in solids. Read the full article here!
- Abstract The interplay between disorder and quantum interference leads to a wide variety of physical phenomena including celebrated Anderson localization -- the complete absence of diffusive transport due to quantum interference between different particle trajectories. In two dimensions, any amount of disorder is thought to induce localization of all states at long enough length scales, though this may be prevented if bands are topological or have strong spin-orbit coupling. In this note, we present a simple argument providing another mechanism for disrupting localization: by tuning the underlying curvature of the manifold on which diffusion takes place. We show that negative curvature manifolds contain a natural infrared cut off for the probability of self returning paths. We provide explicit calculations of the Cooperon -- directly related to the weak-localization corrections to the conductivity -- in hyperbolic space. It is shown that constant negative curvature leads to a rapid growth in the number of available trajectories a particle can coherently traverse in a given time, reducing the importance of interference effects and restoring classical diffusive behavior even in the absence of inelastic collisions. We conclude by arguing that this result may be amenable to experimental verification through the use of quantum simulators.
- Read here!
ABSTRACTDue to the chiral anomaly, Weyl semimetals can exhibit a signature topological magnetoelectric response known as an axion term which is determined by the microscopic band structure. In the presence of strong interactions Weyl fermions may form a chiral condensate, with the intrinsic dynamics and fluctuations of the associated condensate phase producing a dynamical contribution to the axion response. Here we show that an imbalance in the density of right- and left-handed electrons drives an instability of the chiral condensate towards finite momentum and leads to strong fluctuations in the axion response. We derive a long-wavelength theory of Lifschitz type governing the dynamics of the Goldstone mode and use this to characterize its associated spatial fluctuations, which manifest as an inhomogeneous anomalous Hall effect. We show that these fluctuations produce signatures in inelastic light-scattering experiments across a broad spectrum of frequencies, and can be used to determine the structure factor for the axionic collective mode.
- Read here! Abstract A recent experiment showed that a proximity-induced Ising spin-orbit coupling enhances the spin-triplet superconductivity in Bernal bilayer graphene. Here, we show that, due to the nearly perfect spin rotation symmetry of graphene, the fluctuations of the spin orientation of the triplet order parameter suppress the superconducting transition to nearly zero temperature. Our analysis shows that both an Ising spin-orbit coupling and an in-plane magnetic field can eliminate these low-lying fluctuations and can greatly enhance the transition temperature, consistent with the recent experiment. Our model also suggests the possible existence of a phase at small anisotropy and magnetic field which exhibits quasilong-range ordered spin-singlet charge 4e superconductivity, even while the triplet 2e superconducting order only exhibits short-ranged correlations. Finally, we discuss relevant experimental signatures.
Correlated quantum phenomena in one-dimensional (1D) systems that exhibit competing electronic and magnetic order are of strong interest for the study of fundamental interactions and excitations, such as Tomonaga–Luttinger liquids and topological orders and defects with properties completely different from the quasiparticles expected in their higher-dimensional counterparts. However, clean 1D electronic systems are difficult to realize experimentally, particularly for magnetically ordered systems. Here, we show that the van der Waals layered magnetic semiconductor CrSBr behaves like a quasi-1D material embedded in a magnetically ordered environment. The strong 1D electronic character originates from the Cr–S chains and the combination of weak interlayer hybridization and anisotropy in effective mass and dielectric screening, with an effective electron mass ratio of mXe/mYe ∼ 50. This extreme anisotropy experimentally manifests in strong electron–phonon and exciton–phonon interactions, a Peierls-like structural instability, and a Fano resonance from a van Hove singularity of similar strength to that of metallic carbon nanotubes. Moreover, because of the reduced dimensionality and interlayer coupling, CrSBr hosts spectrally narrow (1 meV) excitons of high binding energy and oscillator strength that inherit the 1D character. Overall, CrSBr is best understood as a stack of weakly hybridized monolayers and appears to be an experimentally attractive candidate for the study of exotic exciton and 1D-correlated many-body physics in the presence of magnetic order.
- Read here!
ABSTRACTBy using intense coherent electromagnetic radiation, it may be possible to manipulate the properties of quantum materials very quickly, or even induce new and potentially useful phases that are absent in equilibrium. For instance, ultrafast control of magnetic dynamics is crucial for a number of proposed spintronic devices, and it can also shed light on the possible dynamics of correlated phases out of equilibrium. Inspired by recent experiments on spin-orbital ferromagnet YTiO3, we consider the nonequilibrium dynamics of a Heisenberg ferromagnetic insulator with low-lying orbital excitations. We model the dynamics of the magnon excitations in this system following an optical pulse that resonantly excites infrared-active phonon modes. As the phonons ring down, they can dynamically couple the orbitals with the low-lying magnons, leading to a dramatically modified effective bath for the magnons. We show that this transient coupling can lead to a dynamical acceleration of the magnetization dynamics, which is otherwise bottlenecked by small anisotropy. Exploring the parameter space more, we find that the magnon dynamics can also even completely reverse, leading to a negative relaxation rate when the pump is blue-detuned with respect to the orbital bath resonance. We therefore show that by using specially targeted optical pulses, one can exert a much greater degree of control over the magnetization dynamics, allowing one to optically steer magnetic order in this system. We conclude by discussing interesting parallels between the magnetization dynamics we find here and recent experiments on photoinduced superconductivity, where it is similarly observed that depending on the initial pump frequency, an apparent metastable superconducting phase emerges.
- Read here! Abstract Magnons are quantized collective spin-wave excitations in magnetically ordered systems. Revealing their interactions among these collective modes is crucial for the understanding of fundamental many-body effects in such systems and the development of high-speed information transport and processing devices based on them. Nevertheless, identifying couplings between individual magnon modes remains a long-standing challenge. Here, we observe unambiguous spectroscopic fingerprints of anharmonic coupling between distinct magnon modes in an antiferromagnet, as evidenced by coherent photon emission at the sum and difference frequencies of the two modes. This discovery is enabled by driving two magnon modes coherently with a pair of tailored terahertz fields and then disentangling a mixture of nonlinear responses with different origins, symmetries, and field dependences in a two-dimensional frequency-frequency correlation map. Our approach provides a new platform for generating nonlinear magnonmagnon mixings and establishes a systematic means of unveiling intricate couplings among distinct low-energy collective modes.