Samarth Appointed Head of the Department of Physics

Nitin Samarth, a professor of physics at Penn State, has been appointed as the George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Head of the Department of Physics. He had served as associate head of the department since 2007. He succeeds Jayanth Banavar, who served as head of the department since 1998.

Samarth is an international leader in semiconductor spintronics -- an emerging area of condensed-matter physics that explores new paradigms for information technology. His most highly-cited paper, which was published in the journal Science in 1997, prompted the rapid development of this new field. In addition, Samarth is recognized for his contributions to solving critical materials-physics issues in spintronics by combining sophisticated materials-synthesis techniques such as molecular-beam epitaxy with contemporary nanofabrication protocols. His expertise lies in the design and measurement of spin-engineered quantum structures, where the charge and spin of electrons are independently controlled in nanoscale geometries. His most recent contributions to the field center on an approach known as "spintronics without magnetism," which exploits the spin-orbit interaction for controlling spins in semiconductors.

Samarth is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society. His previous awards and honors include an Outstanding Physics Alumni Award from Purdue University in 2008, a Faculty Scholar Medal in the Physical Sciences from Penn State in 2008, a George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching from Penn State in 2007, and a Society of Physics Students Annual Award for Excellence in Physics Teaching from Penn State in 1993.

Samarth has published over 190 papers in refereed scientific journals and his commentaries have appeared in Science, Nature, Nature Materials, and Physics, and on National Public Radio. His papers also have been featured as cover articles in Nature, Science, and Scientific American. He has given invited lectures and plenary talks at institutions, universities and conferences in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, India, the Netherlands, Romania, Japan and China. He also has served as chair, organizer and advisory committee member of many international physics conferences. He is a co-editor of a widely-used book on semiconductor spintronics and he is the associate editor of the forthcoming first volume of the Handbook on Spintronics.

Before joining the Penn State faculty in 1992, Samarth was a faculty fellow in the physics department at the University of Notre Dame. He earned a doctoral degree in physics at Purdue University in 1986 and an undergraduate degree in physics at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India, in 1980.

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Last Updated August 29, 2011