Peter Abbamonte

Fox Family Professor in Engineering


Peter Abbamonte

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
104 Seitz Materials Research Lab

For more information


Professor Abbamonte received his Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999, having done his research with the then thriving Materials Physics Department at Bell Laboratories. He then went to the University of Groningen in The Netherlands on an IRFAP fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. as a postdoc in biophysics at Cornell University, where he studied photosynthesis in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, and joined the scientific staff at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 2003. He was recruited to the Department of Physics in August of 2005.

Professor Abbamonte is one of the originators of the technique of resonant soft x-ray scattering, which he has used, among other things, to discover a Wigner crystal in doped spin ladders, and to show that stripes in copper-oxide superconductors are charged. This technique is now in use at every major synchrotron facility in the world. He is also known for his solution to the phase problem for inelastic x-ray scattering, permitting real-time imaging of electron motion in condensed matter with attosecond time resolution. He has recently used this approach, for example, to image the formation of excitons in insulators, and to measure the effective fine structure constant of graphene.

Abbamonte is the founder of Inprentus, a premium optics manufacturer based at the University of Illinois Research Park.

Research Interests

  • electron self-organization in condensed matter, stripe phases, topological order; edge and interface effects in oxide devices; quantum phase transitions; collective excitations in interacting electron systems.

Research Statement

See group-maintained web page


  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2014
  • Moore Foundation EPiQS Investigator, 2014-2019
  • University Scholar, 2014
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research, 2010
  • Arnold O. Beckman Fellow, Center for Advanced Study 2008-2009
  • NSF Intl. Research Fellowship, 2000-2001

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Spring 2020PHYS 436
Fall 2018PHYS 402
Spring 2017PHYS 402
Spring 2016PHYS 402
Spring 2012PHYS 435
Spring 2011PHYS 435
Fall 2010PHYS 487
Spring 2010PHYS 486
Spring 2009PHYS 486
Spring 2007PHYS 101

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Research Funding

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, through its Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative (EPiQS), has awarded substantial research funding to two experimental condensed matter physicists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Physics Professors Peter Abbamonte and Vidya Madhavan will receive EPiQS Experimental Investigator awards of $1.6 million each over the next five years.

EPiQS prioritizes high-risk, high-reward fundamental research programs in quantum materials, to foster scientific breakthroughs. EPiQS experimental investigators have the freedom to pursue challenging and novel research directions of the scientists’ own choosing.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Condensed Matter Experiment
  • Condensed Matter Theory

One of the greatest mysteries in condensed matter physics is the exact relationship between charge order and superconductivity in cuprate superconductors. In superconductors, electrons move freely through the material—there is zero resistance when it’s cooled below its critical temperature. However, the cuprates simultaneously exhibit superconductivity and charge order in patterns of alternating stripes. This is paradoxical in that charge order describes areas of confined electrons. How can superconductivity and charge order coexist?  

Now researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collaborating with scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have shed new light on how these disparate states can exist adjacent to one another. Illinois Physics post-doctoral researcher Matteo Mitrano, Professor Peter Abbamonte, and their team applied a new x-ray scattering technique, time-resolved resonant soft x-ray scattering, taking advantage of the state-of-the-art equipment at SLAC. This method enabled the scientists to probe the striped charge order phase with an unprecedented energy resolution. This is the first time this has been done at an energy scale relevant to superconductivity.