Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics and Quantum Dynamics

Condensed matter physics deals with phenomena on the energy scales that are much smaller compared to the microscopic ones (for instance, the kinetic energy of electrons in metals corresponds to temperatures of about 10 000°, far higher than room temperature). Systems of many interacting particles at such macroscopic energy scales often behave in a qualitatively different way leading to so-called emergent phenomena. For example, low energy emergent excitations resulting from a “coherent dance” of electrons interacting with the crystal lattice or amongst themselves may not resemble electrons at all. In the celebrated example of carbon monolayer — graphene, electrons while scattering off the crystal lattice, lose their mass and behave like relativistic fermions. In superconductor, electrons pair with each other leading to an emergent quantum-coherent condensate of cooper pairs that can carry an electric current without any resistance.

While microscopically we cannot alter the basic laws of nature, one of the goals of condensed matter physics is to explore and extend the possible range of emergent behaviors. My research is concentrates on uncovering new emergent physics in quantum systems.

One direction of my research pertains to the dynamics of isolated quantum many-body systems. Such dynamics are currently being studied in systems of cold atoms, trapped ions, superconducting qubits, and many others; these are often referred to as “artificial quantum matter”. The presence of strong disorder in such systems may lead to a so-called many-body localized phase, wherein the system fails to reach thermal equilibrium and cannot be described by usual statistical mechanics. The possibility of evading thermal equilibrium, in which the system quickly turns into “featureless hot soup”, is not only interesting from a practical point of view, but can also potentially enable deeper insight into the emergence of statistical mechanics in a variety of quantum systems.

The second direction of my research pertains to probing and exploring interesting emergent physics in the context of solid-state systems. I am interested in unconventional superconductors, systems with spin-orbit coupling, Dirac and topological materials.  I am particularly attracted to theory that is immediately connected with experiments, either explaining existing data or leading to potentially observable predictions.

Maksym Serbyn

»CV and publication list

Maksym Serbyn will join IST Austria in July 2017.


I am looking for highly motivated postdocs, PhD, and undergraduate students interested in theoretical condensed matter physics and/or quantum dynamics. Those interested in postdoctoral positions, please consider IST Fellow program; also feel free to e-mail me to discuss other options. Prospective students should apply to the IST graduate school (feel free to contact me with any questions). If you are an undergraduate/masters student in your final years, please consider applying for ISTernship program.

Selected Publications

  • Maksym Serbyn, Z. Papic, Dmitry A. Abanin. Local conservation laws and the structure of the many-body localized states. Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 127201 (2013)
  • M. Serbyn, M. Knap, S. Gopalakrishnan, Z. Papic, N. Y. Yao, C. R. Laumann, D. A. Abanin, M. D. Lukin, E. A. Demler. Interferometric probes of many-body localization. Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 147204 (2014) 
  • Maksym Serbyn, Z. Papic, Dmitry A. Abanin. Criterion for Many-Body Localization-Delocalization Phase Transition. Phys. Rev. X 5, 041047 (2015)
  • Y. Okada, M. Serbyn, H. Lin, D. Walkup, W. Zhou, C. Dhital, M. Neupane, S. Xu, Y. J. Wang, R. Sankar, F. Chou, A. Bansil, M. Z. Hasan, S. D. Wilson, L. Fu, V. Madhavan. Observation of Dirac node formation and mass acquisition in a topological crystalline insulator. Science 27 September 2013: 341 (6153), 1496-1499.
  • M. Serbyn, M. Skvortsov, A. Varlamov, V. Galitski. Giant Nernst Effect due to Fluctuating Cooper Pairs in Superconductors. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 067001 (2009)


Since 2017 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2014-2017 Gordon and Betty Moore postdoctoral Fellow at University of California, Berkeley, USA
2009-2014 PhD in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
2003-2009 MSc and BSc in Physics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia

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