Mason physicist receives university’s first DOE Early Career Award


George Mason University researcher Fereshte Ghahari Kermani recently received the highly competitive U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Award. She is the first Mason faculty member to receive this honor, one that highlights the significance of her contributions to the field of condensed matter physics.

This recognition supports scientists across the county whose work pushes the boundaries of scientific advancement and helps solidify the United States as a driver of science and innovation around the world.

dr. kermani in her lab
Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

Ghahari’s study “Probing Correlated Phenomena in Graphene Constrictions” seeks to discover new pathways that will advance the development of novel quantum computing devices. To propel quantum technologies forward, Ghahari, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will look specifically at quantum electronic properties of charge carriers in graphene—a single atom thick layer of graphite—nanostructures.

Her research will address fundamental physics questions including whether a novel type of superconducting qubit can be designed by twisting graphene layers, as well as the properties of emergent particles of specific topological phases of matter. A qubit refers to a basic unit of quantum computing, such as the spin of an electron. 

In search for these questions, Ghahari and her team will design and realize artificial potential landscapes in tiny graphene devices. Then they measure these devices at ultra-low temperatures and strong magnetic fields to probe correlated phases in their tunable dimensionalities.

“This research helps to develop new types of qubits by understanding specific quantum electron properties of particles when traveling through these constrictions,” Ghahari said.

Ghahari’s study was selected by the DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences and will receive $875K over the course of five years. “It is nice to be recognized. This funding will support my career goals to make meaningful advances leading to the scientific insights required for the advancement of technologies based on quantum physics, “Ghahari said. 

Ghahari’s past research has been in pursuit of understanding novel correlated and topological phenomena in graphene. She has made pioneering contributions to the field early in her career from the discovery of fractional quantum Hall effect and hydrodynamic thermal transport to Berry phase switch and quantum Hall wedding cakes in graphene nano devices.

Interested in Ghahari’s research? View another study currently in progress and her work recently published in Science.