U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Scientific and Technical Information

DOE Physicists at Work - Ian Fisher

DOE Physicists at Work Archive

DOE Office of Science celebrates 2005 World Year of Physics


DOE Physicists at Work


Profiles of representative DOE-sponsored physicists
doing research at universities and national laboratories


Compiled by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Ian Fisher

When he was a child, Ian Fisher's parents put up a periodic table of the elements in their family kitchen.  While they used it to test the eyesight of their children, Dr. Fisher recalls it as an "early opportunity to learn the periodic table - and avoid a trip to the opticians!"


Ian Fisher

The Fisher children were also given molecular "ball and stick" models to play with.  "We invented colorful, utterly unphysical, imaginary molecules just for fun," says Dr. Fisher, who now works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford University.  "Our research aims to better understand the rich variety of physical properties of complex materials; to better understand what nature can do.  Only this time it's with real materials, not toys."


Dr. Fisher was born and educated in the United Kingdom, and received his undergraduate degree in physics from Birmingham University, then a PhD from Cambridge.  His thesis research explored the properties of high-temperature superconductors.  Between degrees, he worked with Dr. Jeff Tallon at the former Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Zealand.  "I didn't know exactly where New Zealand was, but I knew that I wanted to work with Jeff and learn some of his synthesis tricks."


After finishing his PhD, Dr. Fisher completed a post-doc at Ames Laboratory, in Ames Iowa, under Professor Paul Canfield.  "That was a truly wonderful experience - a great opportunity to learn the science and art of crystal growth from a master," says Dr. Fisher.  "I rediscovered the sheer joy of experiment - the process of forming a hypothesis and then testing it - in particular, applied to the synthesis and study of new materials."


Fisher, together with Canfield, continued to work on superconductors, but also expanded his horizons to include other exotic materials such as quasicrystals.  At Ames Lab, physicists work alongside metallurgists, chemists and materials scientists.  "Working together we were able to have a bigger impact, understand more about the materials that we were studying," says Dr. Fisher.  This philosophy continues to shape Fisher's research at Stanford University, where he has worked since 2000 in the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials, a newly founded center dedicated to an interdisciplinary study of complex materials.


"In everyday terms, we are studying materials with unusual magnetic and electronic properties" says Dr. Fisher.  "We figure out how to grow crystals of these materials and then carefully explore their physical properties.  What we find is sometimes rather surprising."  Some materials that the group studies are totally new to science; others can be very old, but new to the rarefied world of physics.  For instance, recently Fisher and his students have teamed up with Department of Energy (DOE) physicists at Low Alamos National Laboratory to study an ancient pigment, called Han Purple, first discovered over 2500 years ago and used to color the Terracotta Warriors.  "This material has some very exotic magnetic properties which we are only just beginning to understand," says Dr. Fisher, adding, "It is also a physically beautiful material given its rich purple color.  There is a real aesthetic to materials, and especially to crystal growth.  Sometimes nature can stun you with its beauty."


Dr. Fisher currently receives funding from the DOE to support his research in the synthesis and physical properties of exotic new materials.  He is also a very new father.  "I'll be happy and proud to support my son in whatever he chooses to do later in life," says Dr. Fisher.  "But I think we'll definitely put a periodic table up in our kitchen."


Fisher Research Group


Dr. Fisher’s articles accessed via OSTI:  


Energy Citations Database


Dielectric property-microstructure relationship for nanoporous silica based thin films


Structure of the tenfold d-Al-Ni-Co quasicrystal surface


Low-energy electron diffraction study of Xe adsorption on the ten-fold decagonal Al-Ni-Co quasicrystal surface


Structure and Physical Properties of the New Pseudo-binary Intermetallic Compound Ti-11(Sb,Sn) (8)


The thermal stability of a single-grain Mg-Zn-Y icosahedral quasicrystal


Design of a metallic Ising spin glass in the Y1-xTbxNi2Ge2 system


Electronic structure of quasicrystalline surfaces: Effects of surface preparation and bulk structure


Nonlocal effects in magnetization of high-{kappa} superconductors


Observation of a metamagnetic phase transition in an itinerant 4f system via the magneto-optic Kerr effect: Ce(Fe1-xCox)2


Yb14ZnSb11: Charge Balance in Zintl Compounds as a Route to Intermediate Yb Valence


Low-temperature transport, thermal, and optical properties of single-grain quasicrystals of icosahedral phases in the Y-Mg-Zn and Tb-Mg-Zn alloy systems


Interwoven magnetic and flux line structures in single crystal (Tm,Er)Ni2B2C


Optical properties and electronic structure of single crystals of LuAl2 and YbAl2


Nesting Properties and Anisotropy of the Fermi Surface of LuNi2B2C


A mechanistic study of methanol decomposition over Cu/SiO2, ZrO2/SiO2, and Cu/ZrO2/SiO2


Thermodynamic and transport properties of single-crystal Yb14MnSb11


In situ infrared study of methanol synthesis from CO2/H2 on titania and zirconia promoted Cu/SiO2


Systematic Studies of the Square-Hexagonal Flux Line Lattice Transition in Lu(Ni1-xCox)2B2C: The Role of Nonlocality


Magnetic and transport properties of single-grain R-Mg-Zn icosahedral quasicrystals [R=Y, (Y1-xGdx), (Y1-xTbx), Tb, Dy, Ho, and Er]


Resistivity and magnetic susceptibility of single-crystal Lu(Ni1-xCox)2B2C (x=0.0-0.09)


In situ infrared study of methanol synthesis from H2/CO over Cu/SiO2 and Cu/ZrO2/SiO2


Reinvestigation of long-range magnetic ordering in icosahedral Tb-Mg-Zn


Please search the Energy Citations Database for additional papers by this researcher.


E-print Network 


Characteristic BEC scaling close to Quantum Critical Point in BaCuSi2O6 [Han Purple]


Fermi surface nesting and charge-density wave formation in rare-earth tritellurides


Evidence for charge Kondo effect in superconducting Tl-doped PbTe


Fermi Surface reconstruction in the CDW state of CeTe3 observed by photoemission


Evidence for non glass-like behavior of i-AlPdMn quasicrystals from low-temperature thermal conductivity


Infrared and optical properties of pure and cobalt-doped LuNi2B2C








Last updated on Thursday 24 July 2014