Ilias E. Perakis

Professor and Department Chair This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Campbell Hall 310C
(205) 996-9870

Research and Teaching Interests: Theoretical & Computational Condensed Matter Physics with emphasis on simulation of time-dependent phenomena away from equilibrium, Optical Properties of Strongly Correlated Electronic Materials, Theory of Ultrafast Photo-induced Phase Transitions and emergent materials phase discovery using terahertz Laser Pulses, Quantum Kinetic Simulations of Ultrafast Spectroscopy experiments, Harnessing Quantum Coherence with Laser Pulses

Office Hours: By appointment only


  • B.S., National Technical University of Athens, Greece, Electrical Engineering
  • M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Physics
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Physics
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University, Department of Physics
  • Postdoctoral Member of AT&T Bell Laboratories Theory Division

Ilias Perakis is Professor and Chair of Physics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He is an OSA Fellow and past recipient of the NSF CAREER award. His undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served as Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt University, the University of Crete, and the Foundation for Research & Technology-Hellas. He was chair of the Department of Materials Science & Technology and Associate chair and Director of Undergraduate studies at U. of Crete. He spent four years as postdoc at Bell Laboratories and Rutgers University.

Ilias currently leads UAB-Physics as it expands to become an internationally recognized center of excellence on:

  1. modeling/simulation, big data & high performance/quantum computing,
  2. nano, bio, and quantum materials, and
  3. advanced optics and lasers — sensing, imaging, and control.

He also restructured the Physics major into five threads designed to provide the skills required for 21st century careers tied to Grand Challenge problems. Finally, he initiated an innovative Distance-Enabled Education project targeted to a broad audience of students from health/medical sciences and business. He designed a Scientist Citizen initiative and an active-learning environment where students try to figure out Bobo.

Ilias' research focuses on theory & computation for optical manipulation of materials far-from-equilibrium. He studies laser-driven quantum materials, superconductors, and nanostructures for physics, life sciences, and next-generation device applications. He uses time-dependent quantum many-body theory to help design and interpret experiments using state-of-the-art spectroscopic tools. These allow temporal, spectral, and spatial resolution for laser manipulation and imaging on the THz/nm/fs extreme scale. His most recent works search for non-equilibrium hidden phases of quantum materials for physics and rapid switching applications.

Research Interests

What happens when quantum materials are excited far from equilibrium by intense and ultra-short laser pulses? How can complex non-equilibrium phenomena and metastable quantum phases emerge from simple ingredients in this case? How can we harness quantum mechanical coherence in Light and Matter? How will the information technology and photonics revolutions be extended going forward? Dr. Perakis’ research addresses these big questions, which are recognized as transformative opportunities that will shape our future. He advances theory and computation for Ultrafast Quantum Manipulation of Advanced Complex Materials for fundamental Physics and next-generation-device applications. Ilias and his students use non-equilibrium quantum theory and density matrix equations of motion to design and interpret experiments that take advantage of state-of-the-art ultrafast spectroscopy tools allowing an unprecedented temporal, spectral, and spatial resolution into quantum materials. His most recent work searches for transient phases accessed far from equilibrium following femtosecond quantum quench of the fundamental energy gap of superconductors by terahertz laser pulses. Fascinating non-equilibrium phenomena emerge in such complex systems from the collective behavior of electronic charge and spin and its interplay with the underlying crystal and non-adiabatic light-matter coupling.

Ilias was one of the first theorists to point out the important role of non-adiabatic time-dependent correlations in ultrafast coherent nonlinear optical spectroscopy studies of many-electron quantum materials. Starting in the mid 1990’s, he pointed out the role of laser-induced non-equilibrium quantum dynamics in two-dimensional electron gases under high magnetic fields and in small metal nanoparticles. He also published the first papers on control of femtosecond spin-orbit-torques, spin-torques, and quantum magnetism by laser pulses. Ilias' other passion is communicating STEM to the general public and his students through innovation. He has designed an innovative active-learning environment where his students try to figure out who is Bobo.

Recent Courses

  • PH 771/671 Quantum Mechanics I
  • PH 750/650 Classical Electrodynamics I
  • PH 753/653/553/453 Solid State Physics I
  • PH 754/654/554/454 Solid State Physics II
  • Physics via Concept Grinders (Who is Bobo?), taught at the University of Crete

Select Publications

  • “Ultrafast terahertz snapshots of excitonic Rydberg states and electronic coherence in an organometal halide perovskite”, L. Luo, L. Men, Z. Liu, Y. Mudryk, X. Zhao, Y. Yao, J. M. Park, R. Shinar, J. Shinar, K.-M. Ho, I. E. Perakis, J. Vela, and J. Wang, Nature Communications 8, 15565 (2017)
  • “Non-thermal separation of electronic and structural orders in a persisting charge density wave”, M. Porer, J.-M. Menard, U. Leierseder, H. Dachraoui, L. Mouhliadis, I. E. Perakis, J. Demsar, U. Heinzmann, K. Rossnagel, and R. Huber, Nature Materials 13, 857 (2014)
  • “Ultrafast Observation of Critical Nematic Fluctuations and Giant Magnetoelastic Coupling in Iron Pnictides”, A. Patz, T. Li, S. Ran, R. Fernandes, S. Bud'ko, J. Schmalian, P. Canfield, I. E. Perakis, and J. Wang, Nature Communications 5, 3229 (2014)
  • “Femtosecond switching of magnetism via strongly correlated spin–charge quantum excitations,” T. Li, A. Patz, L. Mouchliadis, J. Yan, T. A. Lograsso, I. E. Perakis, and J. Wang, Nature 496, 69 (2013)
  • “Correlating quasiparticle excitations with quantum femtosecond magnetism in photoexcited nonequilibrium states of insulating antiferromagnetic manganites”, P. C. Lingos, A. Patz, T. Li, G. D. Barmparis, A. Keliri, M. D. Kapetanakis, L. Li, J. Yan, J. Wang, and I. E. Perakis, Physical Review B 95, 224432 (2017)
  • “Coulomb-interaction induced coupling of Landau levels in intrinsic and modulation-doped quantum wells” J. Paul, C. E. Stevens, H. Zhang, P. Dey, D. McGinty, S. A. McGill, R. P. Smith, J. L. Reno, V. Turkowski, I. E. Perakis, D. J. Hilton, and D. Karaiskaj, Physical Review B 95, 245314 (2017)
  • “Dynamics of Inter–Landau–level Excitations of a Two–Dimensional Electron Gas in the Quantum Hall Regime’’, N. A. Fromer, C. E. Lai, D. S. Chemla, I. E. Perakis, D. Driscoll, and A. C. Gossard, Physical Review Letters 89, 067401 (2002)
  • “Many–body Correlation Effects in the Ultrafast Nonlinear Optical Response of Confined Fermi Seas’’, I. E. Perakis and T. V. Shahbazyan, Surface Science Reports 40, 1 (2000)
  • “Non–Fermi–Liquid States of a Magnetic Ion in a Metal”, I. E. Perakis, C. M. Varma, and A. E. Ruckenstein, Physical Review Letters 70, 3467 (1993)

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

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • Fellow of the Optical Society of America (2011)
  • National Science Foundation CAREER award (1997)
  • DOE Faculty Research Participation award at Oakridge National Lab (1996)
  • I.B.M. Pre-doctoral Fellow, University of Illinois-Urbana (1989-1991)
  • Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), and the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR)