UCSB Engineering

David Awschalom

Acting Director, CNSI and Professor, Physics

Electrical & Computer Engineering

David Awschalom


Department of Physics
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9530

tel: (805) 893-2121
fax: (805) 893-4170

Personal web site

Research Description

Awschalom's group primarily focuses on the physics and applications of semiconductor spintronics and quantum information processing. Their research program explores magnetic and electron spin dynamics within a variety of semiconductor-based nanoscale systems. The experimental efforts combine femtosecond optical spectroscopy with low temperature magneto-optical and transport techniques in order to perform energy-dependent dynamical measurements with high spatial and temporal resolution. Such experiments are ideal for studying coherent quantum processes in a variety of nanostructures and are aimed at exploring charge and spin motion in the quantum domain. Current research interests focus on:

(i) Spin dynamics and coherence in the solid state. Time-resolved optical experiments are designed to inject and monitor properties of charge and spin coherences in solid state systems. In particular, we investigate the dynamical evolution of electronic, magnetic, and nuclear spins in three-dimensional and quantum-confined semiconductor nanostructures, yielding information on spin scattering, quantization, and tunneling as well as demonstrating coherent spin manipulation by both optical and electrical means;
(ii) Diluted magnetic semiconductors. Molecular beam epitaxy methods are developed to grow high quality crystals of semiconductors with controlled doping of magnetic ions. Optical experiments utilizing time-resolved and photoluminescence measurements are used to probe the carrier states and magnetic behavior in both III-V and II-VI magnetic semiconductors;
(iii) Spin manipulation in molecules. Experiments are conducted to investigate coherent spin phenomena in novel molecular-semiconductor hybrid systems. Molecules offer new systems for transporting and processing quantum information distinct from semiconductors as well as exciting possibilities for interfacing inorganic and organic matter;
(iv) Quantum information. Experimental schemes are developed for implementing and probing the fundamental mechanisms underlying quantum information in semiconductor-based nanostructures.

Research Groups


Awschalom was a Research Staff member and Manager of the Nonequilibrium Physics Department at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. In 1991 he joined the University of California-Santa Barbara as a Professor of Physics, and in 2001 was additionally appointed as a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is presently Director of the Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, and Associate Director of the California Nanosystems Institute. His group has research activities in optical and magnetic interactions in semiconductor quantum structures, spin dynamics and coherence in condensed matter systems, macroscopic quantum phenomena in nanometer-scale magnets, and implementations of quantum information processing in the solid state. He has developed a variety of femtosecond-resolved spatiotemporal spectroscopies and micromagnetic sensing techniques aimed at exploring charge and spin motion in the quantum domain.


  • National Academy of Sciences, 2007
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2006
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006
  • Newcomb Cleveland Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006
  • Agilent Europhysics Science Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics, European Physical Society, 2005
  • Oliver E. Buckley Prize, American Physical Society, 2005
  • Magnetism Prize and Neel Medal, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, 2004
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 1992
  • Outstanding Investigator Prize, Materials Research Society, 1992

Selected Publications

See complete list of publications
  • Anisotropic Thermopower and Planar Nernst Effect in GaMnAs Ferromagnetic Semiconductors, Phys. Rev. Lett., 97, 2006, Yong Pu, E. Johnston-Halperin, D.D. Awschalom, and Jing Shi, web link
  • Cavity enhanced Faraday rotation of semiconductor quantum dots, Appl. Phys. Lett. 88, 88, 2006, Y. Q. Li, D. W. Steuerman, J. Berezovsky, D. S. Seferos, G. C. Bazan, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Dynamics of coupled qubits interacting with an off-resonant cavity", Phys. Rev. B, 73, 2006, Oliver Gywat, Florian Meier, Daniel Loss, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Enhancement of spin coherence using Q-factor engineering in semiconductor microdisc lasers, Nature Materials, 5, 2006, S. Ghosh, W.H. Wang, F. M. Mendoza, R. C. Myers, X. Li, N. Samarth, A. C. Gossard, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Mechanical control of spin-orbit splitting in GaAs and In0.04Ga0.96As epilayers, Phys. Rev. B, 73, 2006, V. Sih, H. Knotz, J. Stephens, V. R. Horowitz, A. C. Gossard, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Spatial imaging and mechanical control of spin coherence in strained GaAs epilayers, Appl. Phys. Lett., 88, 2006, H. Knotz, A. W. Holleitner, J. Stephens, R.C. Myers, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Suppression of Spin Relaxation in Submicron InGaAs Wires, Phys. Rev., 2006, A. W. Holleitner, V. Sih, R. C. Myers, A. C. Gossard, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • A Hall of Spin, Physics World, 18 (no. 11), 2005, 33-37, Vanessa Sih, Yuichiro Kato, and David D. Awschalom, web link
  • Anisotropic interactions of a single spin and dark-spin spectroscopy in diamond, Nature Physics, 1, 94, 2005, R. J. Epstein, F. M. Mendoza, Y. K. Kato, and D. D. Awschalom, web link
  • Structural, electrical, and magneto-optical characterization of paramagnetic GaMnAs quantum wells, Phys. Rev. B, 72, 2005, M. Poggio, R. C. Myers, N. P. Stern, A. C. Gossard, and D. D. Awschalom, web link