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Adjunct Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Campbell Hall 340
(205) 934-8189

Research and Teaching Interests: Optical and Electronic Properties of Correlated Electron Systems and Semiconductors

Office Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; and by appointment


  • B.S., University of Rochester, Optics
  • M.S., University of Rochester, Optics
  • M.S., Cornell University, Applied Physics
  • Ph.D., Cornell University, Applied Physics


I was born in Elmira, NY and grew up outside of Rochester, NY. I started the PhD program in Applied Physics at Cornell in the fall of 1998 and completed my defense in July 2002. My research, under the direction of Professor Chung Tang, is the first measurement of valence band spin relaxation in bulk gallium arsenide. This confirmed a 25-year-old theory that connected this spin relaxation process to carrier scattering in the valence band and established this as a <100 femtosecond relaxation (1 fs = 10-15 s).

After Cornell, I was a post-doctoral researcher for Dr. Toni Taylor in the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 2002-2006. While there I performed the first studies of ultrafast magnetization using terahertz emission spectroscopy, the first ultrafast terahertz spectroscopic studies of the insulator-to-metal transition in vanadium dioxide, and the first unambiguous observation of a singlet to 4f-level transition in uranium and thorium bis-ketimide small molecules. 

At Rice University, I was a post-doctoral researcher for Dr. Junichiro Kono from 2006 until 2007. I worked on a diverse range of projects while there, including cyclotron resonance spectroscopy in a Landau-quantized two-dimensional electron gas, high magnetic field photoluminescence spectroscopy of carbon nanotubes, the development of a carbon nanotube terahertz polarizer.


  • Research Interests

    My lab interested in the nature of cooperative motion in condensed matter. Our current research studies insulator-to-metal transitions in vanadium dioxide, superconductivity, terahertz spectroscopy of condensed matter and molecular crystals, and Quantum Hall systems. We utilize a number of electrical, time-integrated optical, and ultrafast optical spectroscopic techniques to study the ground state and optically perturbed materials. We are particularly interested in developing novel experimental probes of condensed matter systems to study the properties in extremes of pressure and magnetic field as well as on very short times scales (<10-12 second).

    Our work at UAB is primarily focused on the optical properties of complex metallic oxides, while our long-term collaboration with the National High Magnetic Field Lab at Florida State University focuses on the spectroscopy of a novel class of two-dimensional materials that have new and interesting properties not available in conventional materials (transition metal dichalcogenides, etc) that are used in conventional electronics and optoelectronics (i.e. bulk silicon, gallium arsenide, etc). The long-term interest is to learn how to design and control the electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of materials to enable a new generation of electronic devices based on the generation and control of coherence.

  • Recent Courses
    • PH 221: General Physics I/Honors (Mechanics)
    • PH 222: General Physics II/Honors (E&M)
  • Select Publications

    See a complete list of Dr. Hilton's publications on his Google Scholar page.

  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010)
  • Student Groups
    • Faculty Advisor of the Engineering Honor Society (TBΠ)
    • Society of Physics Students