Group News

Chris Leighton

chrisVisit Chris Leighton's faculty page at the University of Minnesota, Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science (CEMS).

Minnesota MRSEC

Read more about Chris Leighton's participation with MRSEC — University of Minnesota's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).

Funsize Physics 

Take a look at Chris's involvement in Funsize Physics and his recent article outlining how circularly polarized light has incredible effects on the magnetic properties of SrTiO3.

Smart Puppy!

Check out some quick and goofy videos where Smart Puppy and Friends explain some pretty cool physics!

12/6/2017: Congratulations to PhD students Bryan Voigt and Jeff Walter, runners-up in the 2017 DOW SISCA Sustainability Challenge! They presented the work they've done developing pyrite FeS2 as a earth-abundant, low-cost solar material. Check out more details here!

12/11/2017: Research on superconductors carried out by the Center for Quantum Materials (CQM), a collaborative research team Chris and several students in the group are a part of, was recently featured by the University of Minnesota's Office of the Vice President for Research. 

11/7/2017: Two graduate students in the Leighton group, Bryan Voigt and Jeff Walter, have been selected as finalists in the DOW SISCA Sustainability Innovation Award, a University-wide competition "recognizing the work of graduate students with innovative ideas and research that encourages and promotes sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems". They will participate in the final round of the competition in December. Check it out here!

8/15/17: The Leighton Group has an opening for a post-doctoral researcher. The position will deal with complex oxide bulk crystals and heterostructures, specifically titanates and cobaltites, with a strong emphasis on neutron scattering. Interested applicants should contact Chris Leighton at "".

4/21/2017: Chris presented at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Spring 2017 Meeting on recent work from the group resolving the "Doping Puzzle" in pyrite (FeS2). 

4/3/17: Chris has recently been appointed as inaugural Editor of the newest addition to the American Physical Society family of journals, Physical Review Materials. This will be a broad scope multidisciplinary journal that fills a gap in the APS portfolio, providing a high quality publication and reference source to the expanding community of physicists, materials scientists, chemists and engineers working in the area of materials research. The first call for papers for Phys. Rev. Materials will be released very shortly, with the first papers being published this summer. More information about the journal can be found here.

3/13/17: Eric, Koustav, Jeff, and Helin presented this week at the APS March meeting in New Orleans, LA. 

2/20/2017: Chris delivered an invited talk today at the FTAPS 2017 Conference in the United Arab Emirates. 

2/10/2017: Chris and Eray Aydil's Xcel Energy RDF Award on Pyrite had an external review, with Colin Wolden (Colorado School of Mines) and Dimitrios Maroudas (U. Massachussets Amherst) visiting. Chris, Eray, Jeff, and Bryan all presented. 

1/12/2017: Chris gave the Condensed Matter Physics Seminar at the Ohio State University this week, speaking about electrolyte gating of complex oxides. 

12/1/2016: The Leighton group welcomes three new graduate students! John, Vipul, and Linmin are all first year PhD students working on spin valves, electrolyte gating, and FeS2, respectively. 

11/4/2016: Several group members attended the MMM conference this week in New Orleans. Chris delivered an invited talk on metallic spin transport, highlighting Liam O'Brien and Justin Watts' work, as well as our collaboration with Kyoung-Whan Kim and Mark Stiles at NIST. 

10/23/2016: The group has recently published some work elucidating the 50 year old phase transition in SrTiO3. For more details see:

10/18/2016: The new Center for Quantum Materials at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Department of Energy, is now underway. The Center involves Chris, Bharat Jalan, Martin Greven, Rafael Fernandes and Andrey Chubukov. Check out more details here

9/11/2016: Many of the members of the Leighton group took part this week in the FET2016 workshop in Bay Lake, MN. The local organizers for the workshop were Dan Frisbie and Chris, with extensive overlap with UMN MRSEC IRG-1. The workshop photo is shown below. FET2016

6/17/2016: Chris gave an invited talk this week at a complex oxide workshop in Porquerolles, France, talking about Jeff, Helin, and Koustav's work on electrolyte gating of complex oxide films. 

5/24/2016: Chris and Eray Aydil have received a collaborative grant to work on pyrite photovoltaics through the UMN Institute on the Environment. You learn more here:

1/20/16: Chris delivered an invited talk this week at the EMA conference in Orlando, Florida. This was on work done in collaboration with Prof. Bharat Jalan on BaSnO3.

1/1/16: Learn more about the Leighton Group's work on FeS2 for photovoltaics: aThis is an episode of the local TV show "Why?" which aired on the St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

11/30/2015: The group has a new post-doc! We welcome Eric McCalla, who will be working on bulk complex oxides and alloys.

11/16/2015: The Leighton group welcomes two new graduate students! Bryan Voigt and Alan Albrecht join the group, working on FeS2 and non-local spin valves, respectively.

7/30/15: A workshop on Heusler alloys is taking place on the UMN campus, with Chris giving an invited talk on off-stoichiometric NiCoMnSn alloys.

6/8/15: At the Telluride workshop on complex oxides, Chris discussed the group's work on complex oxide thin films in an invited presentation.

3/2/15: Chris gave an invited talk this week at the APS meeting on the group's work on spin transport in metals. 

1/23/15: At the Physics and Chemistry of Solid Interfaces (PCSI) Conference in Snowbird this week Chris presented the group's most recent results on cobaltite heterostructures, particularly Shameek's work on strain-induced oxygen vacancy ordering and its control.

1/5/15: The lab move to our new purpose-built space in the Gore Annex expansion to Amundson Hall is now well underway. Watch this space for updates and photos! To learn more about the Gore Annex go to:

1/2/15: Prof Barry Zink of Denver University joined the Department today as a visiting Piercy Professor. Our group is hosting his sabbatical stay. 

12/20/14: Our collaborative work with Sangwoo Lee and Frank Bates on asphericity and symmetry breaking in one component materials is now published. The work has appeared as a Feature Article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was also placed on the cover. The paper deals, in particular, with some unusual parallels between block polymers and elemental metals such as Mn and U.

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 9:15pm

Leighton Group Focus

Electronic and magnetic materials are the central focus of our group's research. We study a wide variety of types of materials such as nanostructures, thin films, multilayered heterostructures, and bulk polycrystals and single crystals.

We have interests in several areas including the interplay between electronic transport and magnetism in novel materials, and the study of interfaces between dissimilar materials, particularly metals, oxides, and sulfides. The intention is to focus on topics that are attractive from the viewpoint of fundamental science but lie in close proximity to important technological applications such as information storage and microelectronics.

Each of the projects requires fabrication of magnetic/electronic materials and/or structures, detailed atomic level characterization, and in-depth measurement by numerous techniques, particularly electronic transport, magnetometry, and neutron scattering. The work often requires that collaborations be forged, both within the University of Minnesota and with external investigators.