Michael Widom received his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, both in Physics. He was then a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard University before joining the Department of Physics of Carnegie Mellon University in 1985. He has won several fellowships and awards and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He was a visiting Professor at several universities, including his alma mater Cornell and Universities Paris Sud and Jussieu in France. He is also a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School since 2007.
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.
"Quasicrystal equilibrium state." Michael Widom, Katherine J Strandburg, Robert H Swendsen. Physical review letters.
"Ductility improvement of amorphous steels: roles of shear modulus and electronic structure." XJ Gu, S Joseph Poon, Gary J Shiflet, Michael Widom. Acta Materialia.
"Transfer-matrix analysis of a two-dimensional quasicrystal." M Widom, DP Deng, CL Henley. Physical review letters.
"Radial fingering in a Hele-Shaw cell: a weakly nonlinear analysis." JoséA Miranda, Michael Widom. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena.
"Signature of nearly icosahedral structures in liquid and supercooled liquid copper." P Ganesh, M Widom. Physical Review B.
"Mysterious SiB3: Identifying the Relation between α- and β-SiB3." Daniel Eklöf, Andreas Fischer, Annop Ektarawong, Aleksander Jaworski, Andrew J Pell, Jekabs Grins, Sergei I Simak, Björn Alling, Yang Wu, Michael Widom, Wolfgang Scherer, Ulrich Häussermann. ACS Omega.
"First-principles study of the electronic structure and the Fermi surface in rare-earth filled skutterudites ." Gheorghe Lucian Pascut, Michael Widom, Kristjan Haule, Khandker F Quader. Physical Review B.
"Spontaneous formation of thermodynamically stable Al--Cu--Fe icosahedral quasicrystal from realistic atomistic simulations." Marek Mihalkovic, Michael Widom. arXiv preprint arXiv:1908.03417.
"Formation of Graphene atop a Si adlayer on the C-face of SiC." Jun Li, Qingxiao Wang, Guowei He, Michael Widom, Lydia Nemec, Volker Blum, Moon Kim, Patrick Rinke, Randall M Feenstra. arXiv preprint arXiv:1905.04234.
"Coexistence of quantum spin hall edge state and proximity-induced superconducting gap in monolayer 1T'-WTe." Felix Lüpke, Dacen Waters, Sergio C de la Barrera, Michael Widom, David G Mandrus, Jiaqiang Yan, Randall M Feenstra, Benjamin M Hunt. arXiv preprint arXiv:1903.00493.