Michael Widom

Department of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University
Ph.D., Physics, University of Chicago, 1983

Professor Widom's research focuses on theoretical modeling of novel materials in condensed matter and biological physics settings. Methods of statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and computer simulation are used to investigate structure, stability and properties of these materials.

Metals in noncrystalline (nonperiodic) structures are a major focus of effort, including: Liquid metals, for example the liquid-liquid transition in supercooled silicon); Metallic glass es, which are multi-component alloys that freeze into a solid while maintaining a liquid-like structure; Quasicrystals, which are partially ordered and highly symmetric structures that are spatially quasiperiodic. These problems are addressed using first-principles total energy calculation coupled with statistical mechanics to model entire ensembles of probable structures.

Biological physics is the second major focus, including two specific projects. Virus capsids are highly symmetric protein shells that protect the viral genome. Methods of continuum mechanics and symmetry analysis are applied to identify soft modes of deformation. The RNA molecule plays many roles at the heart of gene expression, some of which such as microRNAs and riboswitches have only recently been discovered. A characteristic feature of RNA is its highly convoluted secondary structure, which are analyzed from both thermodynamic and kinetic points of view.

Marek Mihalkovic

Graduate Student

6305 Wean Hall, Pittsburgh PA, 15213


Carnegie Mellon University

Sanxi Yao

Graduate Student

5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA, 15213


Carnegie Mellon University
Most Cited Publications
  1. "Quasicrystal equilibrium state," Michael Widom, Katherine J. Strandburg, and Robert H. Swendsen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 58, 706 (1987)
  2. "Transfer-matrix analysis of a two-dimensional quasicrystal,"  M Widom, DP Deng, and CL Henry.  Physical review letters 63.3 (1989)
  3. "Ductility improvement of amorphous steels: Roles of shear modulus and electronic structure," X.J. Gu, S. Joseph Poon, Gary J. Shiflet, Michael WidomActa Materialia 56, 88 (2008)
  4. "Radial fingering in a Hele-Shaw cell: a weakly nonlinear analysis," José A. Miranda, Michael WidomPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena 120, 315 (1998)
  5. "Symmetry, Landau Theory and Polytope Models of Glass."  David R Nelson and Michael Widom.  Nuclear Physics B 240.1 (1984)
Recent Publications
  1. "Formation of Graphene atop a Si adlayer on the C-face of SiC,"  J Li, Q Wang, G He, M Widom, L Nemec, V Blum, M Kim, P Rinke, and RM Feenstra.  arXiv 1905.04234 (2019)
  2. "First Principles Study of Electronic Structure and Fermi Surface in Rare-Earth Filled Skutterudites RPt4Ge12,"  GL Pascut, M Widom, K Haule, and KF Quader.  arXiv 1905.00169 (2019)
  3. "Coexistence of Quantum Spin Hall Edge State and Proximity-Induced Superconducting Gap in Monolayer 1T'-WTe2."  Felix Lüpke, Dacen Waters, Sergio C de la Barrera, Michael Widom, David G Mandrus, Jiaqiang Yan, Randall M Feenstra, and Benjamin M Hunt.  arXiv 1903.00493 (2019)
  4. "First Principles Calculation of the Entropy of Liquid Aluminum."  Michael Widom and Michael Gao.  Entropy 21.2 (2019)
  5. "Band Structure Theory of the BCC to HCP Burgers Distortion," Bojun Feng and Michael Widom, arXiv:1809.06429v1 (2018).

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