Prof Ben Powell

COPE | Physics | SPS | EPSA | University of Queensland
strongly correlated electrons | organic electronics | biophysics
glasses (radio interview)
PHYS2020 (Thermodynamics and CMP) | Quantum Many-Body Theory reading group
postdocs | students | former postdocs | former students
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Prof Ben Powell


I am a member of the centre for organic photonics and electronics (COPE). There are three other members of staff working on condensed matter physics John Fjaerestad (theory), Ross McKenzie (theory) and Paul Meredith (experiment). My interests strongly overlap with their's and we collaborate frequently.

My main interests are strongly correlated electrons (particularly superconductors), organic electronics and biophysics. Brief introductions to my interests in these areas are given below.

Strongly correlated electrons

In conventional metals such as copper the interactions between the electrons do not qualitatively change the behaviour of the material. However, over the last few decades many materials have been discovered whose behaviours are dominated by the interactions between electrons. These "strongly correlated" materials include technologically important materials used in power distribution, catalysis and plastic display technologies. We combine theoretical and experimental methods from chemistry and physics in an effort to explain the novel behaviours in various classes of materials. This understanding has the potential to impact future electronic devices and advanced materials.

Organic superconductors

Organic charge transfer salts show a wide range of exotic phenomena. These materials exhibit many phenomena that are also seen in other unconventional superconductors, such as small superfluid densities, pseudogaps and non s-wave pairing. However, many novel effects are also observed including spin liquid behavior, valence bond crystals and large Kadowaki-Woods ratios. My group trys to understand this emergent physics both theoretically and by collaborating with experimentalists.

For more information see:

A seminar I gave at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (target audience: experts in CMP but not necessarily organics)
A non-technical article published in Chemistry in Australia (target audience: chemists)
A technical review I coauthored with Ross McKenzie (target audience: PhD students and above)

Parameters for effective Hamiltonians from first principles

A great deal of progress has been made in quantum many-body physics by studying effective low energy Hamiltonians. But, calculating the parameters for these Hamiltonians from first principles remains a major problem. My group works on parameterising effective Hamiltonians for a range of materials.

Transition metal oxides

Under construction.

Organic electronics

Under construction. For an overview see information on the COPE website.

Computational biophysics and molecular engineering

My group studies a class of biological materials known as the melanins. These are the primary photoprotectant in man an it is also possible that they are a naturally occurring soft-solid semiconductor. We investigate the properties of these molecules via first principles calculations and in close collaboration with Paul Meredith's experimental group at UQ. Our goal is to understand the structure-property-function relationships of these materials using a bottom up approach and by tying the theory closely to experiment.