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Winter 2023

Dr. Laimei Nie
Dr. Laimei Nie

Dr. Laimei Nie joins the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University welcomes a new member to the faculty in the spring of 2023, Dr. Laimei Nie. Nie is a condensed matter theorist who plans to further her investigative research here at Purdue.

“I am broadly interested in the quantum mechanical properties of systems with many particles, such as crystals and ultracold atomic gases,” explains Nie. “Interesting behaviors tend to occur in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium states of the system when the particles are strongly interacting with each other, and/or when there is disorder (impurities). Previously I have worked on the equilibrium aspects, and currently my research is focused on characterizing non-equilibrium physics (dynamics) in such systems. Examples include chaotic dynamics, where initial information spreads very fast under the time evolution, and localization, where the degrees of freedom are frozen due to the interplay of interactions and disorder. Decoding these fascinating non-equilibrium phenomena will assist us in understanding and designing quantum materials and synthetic quantum matter. Furthermore, it is also connected to some of the most exciting recent developments in high energy physics and quantum information, including resolving the black hole information paradox and building quantum computers.”

Nie is an assistant professor currently teaching PHYS 172 (Modern Mechanics) for engineering freshmen. In the future, she plans to teach specialized physics classes for both undergraduate physics majors and graduate students.

“I am excited to become a part of the team, working on pioneering discoveries, contributing to the education of students, and making a positive impact on the community,” she says.

Originally from China, Nie attended undergraduate school, Tsinghua University, in Beijing, China.  She then obtained her PhD from Stanford University in 2017 and has been conducting postdoctoral research in the Midwest United States.  Her postdoctoral research was conducted at the Kadanoff Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of Chicago and the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  She began teaching and research at Purdue University in January of 2023.

“First and foremost, Purdue has a strong and collaborative community of researchers in condensed matter physics, equipped with cutting-edge facilities and resources,” she says when asked about why she chose Purdue. “Moreover, the thriving communities in high energy, quantum information, and atomic physics at Purdue offer numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations. This dynamic and collaborative environment provides an ideal setting for me to further my career.”

 When not teaching or conducting research, Nie leads a full life of art and adventure.  She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities like rock climbing and ultimate frisbee.  She’s also an amateur pianist.

“I have been fascinated by the beautiful mathematical structures behind some of the greatest pieces in classical music,” says Nie. 

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is excited that Nie will be taking her next giant leap onto the West Lafayette campus and looks forward to seeing her visions for condensed matter theory expand.