Laura H Greene

Laura H Greene
Laura H Greene

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
Swanlund Professor Emerita and Center for Advanced Study Professor Emerita
(217) 333-7315
1021 Materials Research Lab

For more information


  • Ph.D., Physics, Cornell University, 1984


Laura H. Greene is a Swanlund and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Associate Director for the Center for Emergent Superconductivity. She received her BS from Ohio State, worked at Hughes Aircraft, and then received her PhD in 1984 from Cornell. After nine years at Bell Labs and subsequently Bellcore, she joined the Physics faculty at Illinois. Greene's research is in experimental condensed matter physics investigating strongly correlated electron systems. Much of her research focuses on fundamental studies to determine the mechanisms of unconventional superconductivity by planar tunneling and point contact electron spectroscopies, and on developing methods for predictive design of new families of superconducting materials. In the quest for these long-term goals, spectroscopic studies of the electronic structure of heavy fermions, unconventional superconductors, and other novel materials that show strong electronic correlations are performed. Studies of superconducting proximity effects on novel normal-state and superconducting materials are also done. Another long-term goal is in improving the current carrying capabilities of high-temperature superconductors for impacting a variety of applications, with a focus on those impacting superconductivity for energy storage, production, and transmission.

Research Statement

Our main research efforts are directed towards understanding the physics of highly correlated electron materials, focusing on superconductors. In particular, we study how electrons cross superconducting interfaces with a powerful technique known as tunneling spectroscopy. These measurements are mostly performed on thin films of low-temperature and high-temperature superconductors that we grow in our own laboratory. In our studies of low-temperature superconductors, we have found novel ways to study electronic transport across the superconductor-semiconductor interface. In our studies of high-temperature superconductors, we have found that tunneling spectroscopy can be used to probe symmetries that are broken in nature, and recently discovered a superconducting state that breaks time-reversal symmetry.

Superconductive Tunneling Spectroscopy and Electronic Transport in Pure and Doped YBa2Cu3O7
Thin Films Reliable film growth, electronic transport, magnetization measurements, and superconductive tunneling provide the foundation for our investigations into the electronic properties of high-temperature superconductors. Thin films of pure and doped YBa2Cu3O7 are grown by sputter deposition. These thin films are also grown in various crystallographic orientations, allowing charge transport measurements along different lattice directions in this highly anisotropic material. Information on the interface properties is being provided through these measurements. Furthermore, tunneling provides a powerful spectroscopy of the superconducting state, which will help elucidate the mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity.

Reliable Planar Tunnel Junction Fabrication with Self-assembled Monolayers
To date, the most reliable method of tunnel junction fabrication on high-temperature superconductors has been by evaporation of Pb counter electrodes directly on the YBa2Cu3O7 surface. A chemical interaction between these materials causes a reproducible, insulating tunnel barrier, but also a ~30 Å thick damage layer. To avoid such surface degradation, we are investigating self-assembled monolayers as the tunneling barrier material. The surface of YBa2Cu3O7 thin films are chemically modified with, for example, an alkylamines insulating layer. Resulting tunnel junctions are reliable and have provided intriguing new spectroscopic data indicating the existence of nonconventional order parameters.

Tunneling Spectroscopy of High-Temperature Superconductors
We take advantage of the unconventional nature of high-temperature superconductors to probe details of the superconducting and normal-state properties. Tunneling spectroscopic studies of the surface-induced Andreev bound state (ABS) are performed. This (ABS) is a bound-state of quasi-electrons and quasi-holes that form near to the interface of an unconventional superconductor, such as the d-wave superconductor, YBa2Cu3O7 . We investigate this ABS as a function of several physical parameters, including high-magnetic field and disorder in other unconventional superconductors.

Charge Transport across Superconductor-Semiconductor and Superconductor–Normal-Metal Interfaces
This research program is a coordinated experimental and theoretical study of the static and dynamic properties of hybrid superconductor-semiconductor structures. Electronic transport, superconductive tunneling, magnetization, and light-scattering measurements are conducted on planar, microfabricated structures of high-quality Nb and NbNx thin films grown directly on III-V semiconductor heterostructures. Details of the superconducting proximity effect, Andreev reflection, and tunneling are investigated. We have performed the first optical detection of the superconducting proximity effect: Raman spectroscopy is the optical probe of an InAs interface in good electrical contact with a superconductor.

Charge and Spin Transport at the Interface of Unconventional Superconductors
Quasi-electrons and quasi-holes travel in a dissipationless current along the surface of an unconventional superconductor. At low temperatures, these currents move spontaneously, signifying a state with broken time reversal symmetry. We study the electrodynamics of these Andreev bound state currents by several transport and optical methods.

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Selected Articles in Journals

Pending Articles

Invited Lectures

  • April 3, 2014 "High-Temperature Superconductivity: Taming Serendipity", General Physics Colloquium, Montana Tech, Butte, MT.
  • April 6, 2007 "High Temperature Superconductors: From Broken Symmetries to Cell Phones", Kathryn McCarthy Public Lecture, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • January 23, 2007 "High Temperature Superconductors: Playgrounds for Broken Symmetries", CMS (condensed matter sciences) Distinguished Lecturer, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton NY
  • October 5, 2005 "Unconventional Superconductors: Playgrounds for Broken Symmetries", Department of Physics 1st Distinguished Alumnus Lecture, Public Lecture given at the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
  • August 20, 2001 "Platforms for Passion", New Student Convocation Address, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.
  • May 12, 1997 "High-Temperature Superconductivity: From Nobel Prizes to the Market Place", (Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award Lecture), Jennifer Mills Lecture, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI.
  • APS Centennial Speaker, chosen to give a series of Colloquia commemorating the first 100 years of the American Physical Society, selected 1997.

Research Honors

  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, 2009-2010
  • Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics, University of Illinois, elected 2009
  • Fellow, Institute of Physics, "FinsP" (UK), elected 2007
  • Center for Advanced Study Research Associate, University of Illinois, 2006-2007
  • Member, National Academy of Science, elected 2006
  • Fellow, Phi-Kappa-Phi honor society, elected 2001
  • Center for Advanced Study Resident Associate, University of Illinois, 2000-2001
  • Swanlund Endowed Chair, University of Illinois, named 2000
  • E. O. Lawrence Award for Materials Research, Dept. of Energy, 1999
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 1997
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, elected 1996
  • Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award of the American Physical Society, 1994
  • Beckman Award from the University of Illinois Campus Research Board, 1993
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, elected 1993
  • Hazel S. Brown Scholarship Award, the Ohio State University, 1974

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Fall 2012PHYS 499
Spring 2012PHYS 496