SOAR Student Profiles

Ariel  Nicastro

Ariel Nicastro

  • SOAR Position: Member; Secretary (2023-2024), Scholars Week Chair
  • Major: Physics
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Bill Robertson, Dr. Wolfgang Losert (UMD), Dr. Hanna Terletska

Current Focus: Modeling Disorder Effects in Quantum Materials

Additional Interests: I play viola at MTSU and enjoy hiking near waterfalls!

Project Description

In condensed matter physics, disorder refers to asymmetries in the crystal structure at the atomic level. There, materials can undergo phase transitions such as the Anderson Localization Transition (ALT), which is responsible for the conductor to insulator transition. Understanding the impact of disorder on quantum materials is critical for material design, as materials’ properties can be manipulated to improve material durability, cost effectiveness, and other desirable characteristics. To study the effect of disorder on quantum materials, we developed an effective medium quantum cluster method (CDMT) to simulate binary and box distributions. These distributions represent different disorder scenarios in technologically important systems, such as alloys and semiconductors. In this project, we showed that our CDMT method captures the experimentally observed impact of disorder on a material’s density of states, i.e. the broadening of the spectrum by disorder.

Why does this topic interest you?

I’m interested in the intersection of condensed matter and quantum because I wanted to learn more about both of these fields. I’m always surprised at how many applications this research field can have on our daily lives! Some of the applications of researching quantum materials are better solar cells, superconductors, and metal alloys.

What are your professional aspirations?

I plan to pursue a career in physics research where I can also mentor students entering the field.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

You don't need to know exactly what you want out of research before you start doing it! I have been involved in many research projects and am slowly learning the fields of physics that I am passionate about. Research can both be a way to pursue your interests and learn more about them!

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