Roberto Merlin

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Roberto Merlin

Peter A. Franken Collegiate Professor of Physics
Professor of EECS

Office Location(s): 4239 Randall
Labs: SB460, SB468, SB 472 Randall (764.6559)
Phone: 734.763.9759

  • Fields of Study
    • Condensed Matter Experiment
  • About

    Professor Roberto Merlin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received the Licenciado en Ciencias Fisicas (M.S.) degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973 and the Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1978. His graduate advisor was Professor Manuel Cardona. After a postdoctoral position in the group of Professor Miles V. Klein at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he joined the Physics faculty of the University of Michigan in 1980. He became Associate Professor in 1985 and Full Professor in 1989. During 1993-1996, Merlin served as Associate Chair for Research and Facilities of the Department of Physics. Since 2000, he has held a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Merlin was a Visiting Professor at the Max-Planck-Institut FKF, Stuttgart, Germany (1987), at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (1996), at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France (2007), at the Pulse Institute, Stanford University (2013) and at ETH, Zurich, Switzerland (2014). In 1997, he held the Visiting Professor Iberdrola Chair at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain.

    Professor Merlin's primary research specialty is experimental condensed matter physics. 
    His areas of expertise include various continuous wave and ultrafast optical techniques and, in particular, spontaneous and impulsive (stimulated) Raman spectroscopy. His current interests focus on the generation and control of coherent vibrational and electronic fields using ultrafast laser and x-ray pulses, van der Waals semiconductors and metamaterials. Merlin and collaborators pioneered experimental work on Fibonacci superlattices, the quantum-confined Pockels effect and squeezed phonons. Other significant contributions include the earliest light-scattering studies of interface phonons, folded acoustic modes and shallow impurities in GaAs/AlAs heterostructures, and the development of the technique of magneto-Raman scattering.

    Professor Merlin has made substantial theoretical contributions to the fields of ultrafast science and metamaterials. In particular, he provided an analytical solution to the almost-perfect lens problem confirming predictions of perfect focusing for a negative-index slab, and revealed the deep connection that exists between modulated patterns of the electromagnetic field and subwavelength focusing; a phenomenon referred to as radiation-less interference. Concerning ultrafast optical science, Merlin was the first to point out the importance of stimulated Raman scattering in the generation of coherent phonon oscillations for excitation above the band gap, and to uncover the existence of two distinct Raman tensors, one associated with the generation and the second one with the detection of the coherent oscillations.

    Professor Merlin is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2015), the Optical Society of America (2000), American Physical Society (1996), the von Humboldt Foundation (1987), the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2007) and the Simons Foundation (2013). Other honors include the 2006 Frank Isakson Prize of the American Physical Society for Optical Effects in Solids, Cooper Lecturer (2015) at the Department of Physics, West Virginia University, and Lannin Lecturer (2002) at the Department of Physics, Pennsylvania State University. His service record includes Chair of the APS Forum on International Physics (1996-1997), Member of the APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists (2002-2004) and General Chair of the Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference (2006). He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Springer Series in Solid State Sciences, the journal Solid State Communications, and a Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters.

    Selected Publications

    Frenkel-like Wannier-Mott Excitons in Few-Layer PbI2, (A. S. Toulouse, B. P. Isaacoff, G. Shi, M. Matuchová, E. Kioupakis and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. B 91, 165308 (2015).

    Photonic Crystals as Topological Resonators, (R. Merlin and S. M. Young), Opt. Express 22, 18579-18587 (2014).

    Observation of Standing Waves of Electron-Hole Sound in a Photoexcited Semiconductor, (P. Padmanabhan, S. Young, M. Henstridge, S. Bhowmick, P. K. Bhattacharya and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 027402 (2014).

    Optical Probing of Ultrafast Electronic Decay in Bi and Sb with Slow Phonons, (J. J. Li, J. Chen, D. A. Reis, S. Fahy and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 047401 (2013).

    Pinholes Meet Fabry-Pérot: Perfect and Imperfect Transmission of Waves Through Small Apertures, (R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. X 2, 031015 (2012).

    Nonlinear Phononics as an Ultrafast Route to Lattice Control, (M. Först, C. Manzoni, S. Kaiser, Y. Tomioka, Y. Tokura, R. Merlin and A. Cavalleri), Nature Phys. 7, 854-856 (2011).

    Metal Nanoparticle Ensembles: Tunable Laser Pulses Distinguish Monomer from Dimer Vibrations, (P. M. Jais, D. B. Murray, R. Merlin and A. V. Bragas), Nanolett. 111, 3685-3689 (2011).

    Near-Field Plates: Metamaterial Surfaces/Arrays for Subwavelength Focusing and Probing, (A. Grbic, R. Merlin, E. M. Thomas and M. F. Imani), Proc. IEEE 99, 1806-1815 (2011).

    Observation of Insulating Nano-Islands in Ferromagnetic GaMnAs, (D. M. Wang, Y. H. Ren, P. W. Jacobs, S. Fahy, X. Liu, J. K. Furdyna, V. F. Sapega, and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 256401 (2009).

    Metamaterials and the Landau-Lifshitz Permeability Argument: Large Permittivity Begets High-Frequency Magnetism, (R. Merlin), Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 106, 1693-1698 (2009).

  • Education
    • University of Buenos Aires, Argentine M.S. 1973
    • University of Stuttgart, Germany Ph.D. 1978.