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!

2/20/2017: Chris delivers 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. 

11/4/2016: Several group memebers 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. 

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.


12/15/14: Congratulations to grad student Shameek Bose. Shameek successfully defended his thesis today on cobaltite interfaces. Well done Shameek!

12/12/14: Our group's collaborative work with Dan Frisbie on High Conductance 2D Transport Around the Hall Mobility Peak in Electrolyte-Gated Rubrene Crystals was published in Physical Review Letters today.

12/12/14: Chris gave seminars on the group's work on complex oxide heterostructures this week, at the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at UC San Diego and in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at UC Davis.

11/14/14: The Leighton Group welcomes a new graduate student from the CEMS 2014 class. Helin Wang will be co-advised by Chris and Dan Frisbie and will focus on electrolyte gating of organic and inorganic conductors.

11/7/14: The annual Magnetism and Magnetic Materials Conference was held this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. Chris was General Chair of the conference, at which Jeff Walter and Liam O'Brien also presented papers.

8/29/14: Chris took part in the Complex Oxide Workshop at UC Santa Barbara this week, delivering an invited talk on cobaltite films and heterostructures.

8/22/14: At the SPIE Spintronics symposium this week Chris delivered an invited presentation on Kondo physics in non-local metallic spin transport devices.

7/31/14: Post-doc Liam O'Brien leaves the group today for a faculty position in the Physics Department at the University of Cambridge, UK. Congratulations Liam, and good luck with the new position

7/17/14: The group welcomes a new student to the group, Justin Watts. Justin is a Physics PhD student and will be co-advised by Chris and Paul Crowell. Welcome Justin!

7/7/14: Post-doc Danny Phelan recently left the group, bound for a permanent staff position in the Materials Science Division at Argonne National Lab. Danny will be working on crystal growth and scattering and we wish him well with the next phase of his career!

6/6/14: Danny Phelan gave an invited talk on his work at the American Conference on Neutron Scattering this week, in Knoxville, TN. Danny spoke on lightly hole-doped LaCoO3 single crystals.

5/1/14: Chris was appointed by the University as a Distinguished McKnight University Professor.

4/29/14: Congratulations to Liam O'Brien. His work on Kondo Physics in Non-local Metallic Spin Transport Devices has been published in Nature Communications. This is collaborative work with the group of Prof. Paul Crowell.

4/28/14: Many congratulations go to Xin Zhang, who was just awarded a University Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for 2014. Xin is working with Chris and Eray Aydil on pyrite FeS2.

3/27/14: The group's collaborative work with Eray Aydil on Alkali-Metal-enhanced Grain Growth in CZTS films is now published in Energy and Environmental Science. Congratulations in particular to Melissa Johnson, Mike Manno and Xin Zhang.

3/23/14: The group's collaborative work with Scott Crooker of Los Alamos National Lab and Greg Haugstad of the U of MN Characterization Facility has now been published in Nature Materials. The paper deals with persistent magnetic effects excited in oxygen-deficient SrTiO3 via circularly polarized light.

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.