Student Spotlight

The Softsemi Conductor Group: Jean Anne Currivan


Hometown, Country:
Los Altos, CA, USA

Academic history prior to coming to MIT: 
M.A. in experimental condensed matter physics from Harvard, B.A. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley

What brought you to MIT?
I’ve found quantum mechanics to be a fascinating and exciting subject ever since my first course as an undergraduate.  I started out doing research on the quantum mechanics of cold atoms, but I became more and more interested in research that had potential applications to improve the world.  This brought me to MIT, which is a great center for combining fundamental and applied research.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?
At MIT, I study spin dynamics in nanoscale magnetic materials.  You can think of my work as studying very small magnets.  The spin configuration of a nanoscale magnet can be influenced by many parameters, such as material structure, external fields, and electrical and spin currents.  I research how the quantum mechanics of these materials can be used to make more energy efficient and functional transistors for memory and logic.  Part of this research involves using MIT’s clean room facilities to pattern sub-100 nanometer structures in magnetic thin films.

What interests you most about your research?
It is exciting to work on interdisciplinary research that is a cross between physics, electrical engineering, and materials science.  There are always new things to learn, and I get to share and grow in the knowledge with intrigued, bright colleagues.  The most exciting moments are when scientific knowledge is combined with creativity to produce new ideas.

What are your future plans?
I want to stay in applied physics research.  I also enjoy teaching and outreach, so I hope to include that in whatever I do next.