Nicole Benedek

Headshot of Dr. Nicole BenedekDr. Nicole Benedek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Her research lies at the intersection of materials science, solid-state chemistry and condensed matter physics.

She uses first-principles theoretical techniques, like density functional theory, to try to understand why certain materials have the structures that they have, how the atomic structure of a material gives rise to its properties and how we can use this information to design materials with enhanced properties. Dr Benedek focuses primarily on the complex oxides, a fascinating and diverse class of materials that display many different properties, including superconductivity, ferroelectricity, photocatalysis, magnetism and interesting electronic and ionic transport properties. With collaborators at Cornell University, Dr Benedek recently discovered a new route to electric-field control of the magnetization (one of the 'holy grails' of functional materials research) in a class of layered perovskite oxides. She has also studied (with collaborators at Imperial College London) the structures of interfaces in complex oxides and developed a computational technique for predicting interface structure; knowledge of the link between interface structure and functional properties is crucial to the design of new, oxide-based electronics technologies. Dr Benedek is also interested in the ways in which theory and computation can be combined with electron microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to advance our understanding of materials.

Before joining Austin, Dr Benedek was a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University and at Imperial College London. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics and Applied Chemistry from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her undergraduate degree was in Applied Chemistry at the same institution, from which she graduated with First Class Honors and the AN Hambly Prize for the top graduating student. She held an Australian Postgraduate Award for the duration of her doctoral studies.