Department of Condensed Matter

Shahal Ilani

Quantum Nanoelectronics

Research Image Shahal Ilani

 Research Interests:

The carbon nanotube, a long molecule made entirely of carbon atoms, is one of the most remarkable condensed matter systems given to us by nature. Contrary to conventional metals and semiconductors, nanotubes grow virtually free of structural defects, making them a perfect solid for studying fundamental concepts in quantum mechanics. A nanotube suspended over a "piano" of electrical gates is the cleanest solid-state approach to control and study individual electrons, spins, and phonons in one-dimension.

In the last few years we have developed a conceptually new fabrication approach that allows us to make nanotube devices that are far more complex and clean than was possible to date. Our approach relies on accurate nano-assembly of pristine nanotubes on electrical circuits of unlimited complexity. With these new devices we can address a large set of fundamental questions in condensed matter physics, including:

  1. Electronic Phases in One-Dimension
    We study a variety of canonical condensed-matter phases: the Wigner crystal of electrons, Mott insulators in artificially-engineered potential lattices, Luttinger liquids with tunable barriers, and coupled nanotubes predicted to exhibit exciton superfluidity.
  2. Nano-Electro-Mechanics
    Suspended nanotubes are an interesting nano-mechanical system, particularly because their small size means that their mechanical motion is on the verge of being quantum mechanical. In our unique nano-mechanical systems we demonstrated that we fully can fully tailor the coupling between electrons and phonons, allowing us to realize fundamental physical phenomena such as superconductivity and ferroelectricity from the bottom-up, pushing them to interesting regimes that are unattainable in bulk materials found in nature.
  3. Novel scan probes
    A large research activity in our lab is devoted to real-space imaging of correlated one- and two- dimensional systems on the nanoscale. Here we also use nanotubes, but this time playing the role of an ultra-sensitive potential detector. We developed a nanotube based scanning single-electron-transistor capable of measuring a tiny fraction of the electronic charge with nanometeric resolution, and we utilize this unique tool to unravel the microscopic physics governing quantum system that are otherwise probed mostly by macroscopic means.
  4. Complex oxide interfaces
    A rich playground for studying correlated electron phenomena has emerged recently with the discovery of a conducting two-dimensional electron system at the interface between two oxide insulators. We use a variety of tools, from magnetotransport to nanotube-based scanning single-electron charge detection, to unravel the complex physics underlying these rich material systems.

We have job openings for Phd. students and postdocs.

 Selected Publications:

  1. J. A. Sulpizio, S. Ilani, P. Irvin, and J. Levy, "Nanoscale Phenomena in Oxide Heterostructures", preprint at arXiv:1401.1772 (2014).
  2. J. Ruhman, A. Joshua, S. Ilani, and E. Altman, "Competition Between Kondo Screening and Magnetism at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 Interface", preprint at arXiv:1311.4541 (2013).
  3. A. Benyamini*, A. Hamo*, S. Viola Kusminskiy, F. von Oppen and S. Ilani, "Real-Space Tailoring of the Electron-Phonon Coupling in Ultra-Clean Nanotube Mechanical Resonators", Nature Physics, 10, 151-156 (2014) (
  4. M. Honig, J. A. Sulpizio, J. Drori, A. Joshua, E Zeldov and S. Ilani, "Local Electrostatic Imaging of Striped Domain Order in LaAlO3/SrTiO3", Nature Materials, 12, 1085-1086 (2013). (News&Views,
  5. J. Waissman, M. Hong, S. Pecker, A. Benyamini, A. Hamo and S. Ilani "Realization of Pristine and Locally-Tunable One-Dimensional Electron Systems in Carbon Nanotubes",Nature Nanotechnology, 8, 569-574 (2013). (News&Views,
  6. S. Pecker*, F. Kuemmeth*, A Secchi, M. Rontani, D. C. Ralph, P. L. McEuen and S. Ilani "Observation and Spectroscopy of a Two-Electron Wigner-Molecule State in an Ultra-Clean Carbon Nanotube", Nature Physics, 9, 576-581 (2013). (
  7. Arjun Joshua, J. Ruhman, S. Pecker, E. Altman, and S. Ilani, "Gate-Tunable Polarized Phase of Two-Dimensional Electrons at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3Interface", PNAS, vol. 110 no. 24, 9633 (2013).
  8. Arjun Joshua, S. Pecker, J. Ruhman, E. Altman, and S. Ilani, "A Universal Critical Density Underlying the Physics of Electrons at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 Interface", Nature Communications, 3, 1129 (2012).
  9. S. Ilani and P. L. McEuen, "Electron Transport in Carbon Nanotubes", Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics, 1, 1 (2010).
  10. F. Kuemmeth*, S. Ilani*, D. C. Ralph and P. L. McEuen, "Coupling of Spin and Orbital Motion of Electrons in Carbon Nanotubes", Nature 452, 448 (2008).
    News coverage: Nature News & Views 1 452, 419 (2008), Nature News & Views 2 (2008), Bell-Labs Journal Club (2008), (2008)
  11. S. Ilani, L. A. K. Donev, M. Kindermann and P. L. McEuen, "Measurement of the Quantum Capacitance of Interacting Electrons in Carbon Nanotubes", Nature Physics 2, 687 (2006).
    News coverage: Bell-Labs Journal Club (2007)
  12. J. Martin, S. Ilani, B. Verdene, J. Smet, V. Umansky, D. Mahalu, D. Schuh, G. Abstreiter, A. Yacoby, "Localization of Fractionally Charged Quasi-Particles", Science 305, 980-83 (2004).
  13. S. Ilani, J. Martin, E. Teitelbaum, A. Yacoby, J. Smet, D. Mahalu, V. Umansky, "The Microscopic Nature of Localized States in the Quantum Hall Regimes", Nature 427, 328-32 (2004).
  14. S. Ilani, A. Yacoby, D. Mahalu, H. Shtrikman, "Microscopic Structure of the Metal-Insulator Transition in Two Dimensions", Science 292, 1354-57 (2001).
  15. S. Ilani, A. Yacoby, D. Mahalu, H. Shtrikman, "Unexpected behavior of the local compressibility near the B=0 metal-insulator transition", Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 3133-36 (2000).
  16. G. L. Frey, S. Ilani, M. Homyonfer, Y. Feldman, R. Tenne, "Optical-absorption spectra of inorganic fullerenelike MS2 (M = Mo, W)", Phys. Rev. B 57, 6666-71 (1998).