Taylor L Hughes

Associate Professor


Taylor L Hughes

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
2115 Engineering Sciences Building

For more information


Professor Taylor Hughes received his bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Florida in 2003, graduating summa cum laude. He subsequently worked as a software engineer for a year as a department of defense contractor. He went on to obtain a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2009, working in the condensed matter theory group of Professor Shou-Cheng Zhang. His research covered a broad range of subjects from spintronics, to graphene/graphite, to topological insulators. His two primary research contributions as a graduate student are the collaborations which predicted of the existence of a quantum spin Hall state in HgTe/CdTe quantum wells, and secondly constructed the topological response theory of 3D time-reversal invariant topological insulators.

Professor Hughes then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a postdoc under Professor Eduardo Fradkin. During these two years he began developing methods to characterize states of matter using quantum entanglement, most notably, disordered fermionic systems and topological insulator/ordered systems. Additionally he began working on the theory of the topological visco-elastic response in topological insulators.

Professor Hughes joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in the Fall of 2011.

Research Statement

My research interests are focused in three main areas:

1. Topological insulators/Superconductors

2. Using quantum information/entanglement techniques to characterize quantum condensed matter systems.

3. Mesoscopic transport in low-dimensional materials or heterostructures

Other interests include topological order, quantum Hall effect, spin-orbit coupled electronic systems, connections between high-energy physics, gravity, and condensed matter.

Some of my recent work has been on connections between torsion, gravity, and viscosity in topological insulators, characterizing disordered topological insulators using the entanglement spectrum, and transport calculations in graphene/superconductor junctions.

Interested students should contact me via email and be willing to work on a broad range of topics. Before contacting me please look at some of my selected publications below, or on the arxiv to get an idea of which subjects are of the most interest to you.

I have several opportunities for research projects/reading courses for undergraduates who are highly-motivated and can program or proficiently use either Matlab, Mathematica, or C/C++/FORTRAN.

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Condensed Matter Theory
  • ICMT
  • Institute for Condensed Matter Theory

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Princeton University have theoretically predicted a new class of insulating phases of matter in crystalline materials, pinpointed where they might be found in nature, and in the process generalized the fundamental quantum theory of Berry phases in solid state systems. What’s more, these insulators generate electric quadrupole or octupole moments—which can be thought of roughly as very specific electric fields—that are quantized. Quantized observables are a gold standard in condensed matter research, because experimental results that measure these observables have to, in principle, exactly match theoretical predictions—leaving no wiggle room for doubt, even in highly complex systems.

The research, which is the combined effort of graduate student Wladimir Benalcazar and Associate Professor of Physics Taylor Hughes of the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory at the U. of I., and Professor of Physics B. Andrei Bernevig of Princeton, is published in the July 7, 2017 issue of the journal Science.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Physics professor Taylor Hughes and mechanical science and engineering professor Gaurav Bahl of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are part of an interdisciplinary team that will study non-reversible sound wave propagation over the next four years, with a range of promising potential applications.

The National Science Foundation has announced a $2-million research award to the team, which includes University of Oregon physics professor Hailin Wang and Duke University electrical and computer engineering professor Steven Cummer. The grant is part of a broader $18-million NSF-funded initiative, the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program, supporting nine teams—a total of 37 researchers at 17 institutions—to pursue fundamental research in the area of new light and acoustic wave propagation, known as NewLAW.

  • In the Media
  • Condensed Matter Physics

What’s exciting to you about working in this field? One thing is that it’s a new field. And because it involves “weakly correlated” physics, we can actually hope to make precise calculations about what is going to happen in experiments. It’s just a matter of asking the right question. That, to me, lends itself to more creativity, in a way that I feel can be rewarding. Whereas, if I came up with a new theory of high-temperature superconductivity, nobody would believe it but me.

  • Accolades
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Assistant Professor Taylor Hughes has been selected for the 2015 Young Investigator Program of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country. Hughes is among 36 early-career university faculty selected for the program this year from across the nation. Each will receive annual monetary awards over a three-year period for research efforts that hold promise for advancing naval technologies.

Hughes will use the award, which extends his previous ONR funded research, to explore new classes of electronic materials including crystalline topological insulators (TCIs) and topological semi-metals (TSMs), with interactions. Both of these classes of materials are expected to exhibit remarkable properties, some of which are yet to be predicted.