Tianhan Liu

Tianhan Liu

"Education is key to the future."

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree Program: Physics
Degree: Doctorate

Video Credit: Enrique Toledo

Why FSU?

The FSU physics department has internationally renowned research in various fields of physics. Among them, I was particularly attracted to the condensed matter physics program because of its’ prominent profile in cutting-edge research studying the physical properties of solid-state materials. Also notable is its ties with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I became fascinated by the beauty of physics in middle school. Even back then, I was not content with learning what was taught in the classroom from a textbook. I was more interested in discovering something new by way of application and did many experiments by myself at home. In college, I was largely limited to learning theories developed decades ago from textbooks. I had always been more curious about how scientists explore the unknowns rather than learning the developed theories. I decided to pursue a graduate degree to explore unknown discoveries and contribute to solving exciting real world problems.

Importance of your research

My research is in an area of condensed matter physics called spintronics. Spintronics is the spin-based electronics that utilizes the spin of electrons instead of or in addition to their charge to perform information storage and processing. Specifically, I study how spins move around and maintain their coherence in semiconductors, and how one could generate polarized spins in semiconductors from organic chiral molecules such as DNA and peptides.

Advice for prospective graduate students

Working towards a PhD is a long process. Make sure doing research is what you are truly passionate about. It can be frustrating but it is also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Don’t give up easily because of the temporary setbacks. It will all be worth it when you discover or understand something no one else has done before.

Career aspirations

Spintronics is one area of physics research which has produced many fundamental advance in physics advances and broad practical applications. The field has developed rapidly and many exciting discoveries constantly emerge. I would like to pursue a career in related fields in academia or R&D in industry. As I have long been interested in music and dance, eventually I hope to do something creative combining science and art.

Accomplishments during graduate career

I am most proud of my participation in the FSU Three Minute Thesis Competition. I also recently served as a mentor for the Women and Girls in Science event held on the campus of Florida A&M University. Over 120 girls from school in Leon County attended and engaged in a day full of mentoring and hands on activities with women in science from Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College, Florida A&M University, the local community and the Leon County School District.