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Ariel Sommer

Ariel Sommer

Assistant Professor

Lewis Lab 409

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013

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Additional Interests

  • Experimental Atomic Physics
  • Quantum Physics

Research Statement

Modern materials, such as high-transition-temperature superconductors, benefit from strong interactions between electrons. However, strong interactions lead to difficulties in modeling and understanding systems of many particles, especially at the quantum level. My research utilizes gases of atoms trapped in vacuum and cooled to ultra-low temperatures to investigate the behavior of strongly interacting collections of quantum particles. We cool gases of lithium-6 atoms to near absolute zero using laser light. As fermions, lithium-6 atoms obey the Pauli exclusion principle and therefore mimic the behavior of electrons in solids, and also of neutrons in neutron stars. By studying the dynamics of atomic gases, my group aims to provide insight into the underlying physics of electron transport in strongly correlated materials.


Ariel Sommer received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Stanford University in 2007. He received his PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 under Martin Zwierlein, where he studied ultracold Fermi gases. Sommer carried out postdoctoral work on Rydberg polaritons in optical cavities at the University of Chicago as a Grainger Postdoctoral Fellow under Jonathan Simon. He joined the group of Wolfgang Ketterle at MIT as a postdoc in 2016 to work on ultracold molecules. In 2017, Sommer joined the physics faculty at Lehigh University, where he works on transport in ultracold Fermi gases. Sommer’s work is supported by the NSF.

Ding Zhang and Ariel T. Sommer. Transport of Spin and Mass at Normal-Superfluid Interfaces in the Unitary Fermi Gas. Physical Review Research 4, 023231 (2022)

Ningyuan Jia, Nathan Schine, Alexandros Georgakopoulos, Albert Ryou, Logan W. Clark, Ariel Sommer, and Jonathan Simon. A strongly interacting polaritonic quantum dot. Nature Physics 14, 550-554 (2018)

Timur M. Rvachov, Hyungmok Son, Ariel T. Sommer, Sepehr Abadi, Juliana J. Park, Martin W. Zwierlein, Wolfgang Ketterle, Alan O. Jamison. Long-Lived Ultracold Molecules with Electric and Magnetic Dipole Moments. Physical Review Letters 119, 143001 (2017)

Nathan Schine, Albert Ryou, Andrey Gromov, Ariel Sommer, and Jonathan Simon. Synthetic Landau Levels for Photons. Nature 534, 671-675 (2016)

Jia Ningyuan, Clai Owens, Ariel Sommer, David Schuster, Jonathan Simon. Time- and Site-Resolved Dynamics in a Topological Circuit. Phys. Rev. X 5, 021031 (2015)

Lawrence W. Cheuk, Ariel T. Sommer, Zoran Hadzibabic, Tarik Yefsah, Waseem S. Bakr, and Martin W. Zwierlein. Spin-Injection Spectroscopy of a Spin-Orbit Coupled Fermi Gas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 095302 (2012) 

Ariel T. Sommer, Lawrence W. Cheuk, Mark J. H. Ku, Waseem S. Bakr, and Martin W. Zwierlein.  Evolution of Fermion Pairing from Three to Two Dimensions. Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 045302 (2012) 

Mark J. H. Ku, Ariel T. Sommer, Lawrence W. Cheuk, Martin W. Zwierlein. Revealing the Superfluid Lambda Transition in the Universal Thermodynamics of a Unitary Fermi Gas. Science 335, 563 (2012) 

Ariel Sommer, Mark Ku, Giacomo Roati, and Martin W. Zwierlein. Universal Spin Transport in a Strongly Interacting Fermi Gas. Nature 472, 201-204 (2011)


I have taught courses in modern physics, quantum mechanics, and atomic physics.