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ESH 4149
(205) 996-9870
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Research and Teaching Interests: Theoretical & Computational Condensed Matter and Optical Physics; Modeling and Simulation of time-dependent nonlinear phenomena and quantum dynamics far from equilibrium; Ultra-fast Optical properties of Condensed Matter Systems; Quantum Design and Steering of Non-Equilibrium Materials States using phase-coherent, Terahertz-time-periodic Electromagnetic Fields; Coherent Control and Quantum Tomography of higher correlation in Topological and Superconducting Quantum States; Quantum Kinetic Simulations and Data Analysis of Multi-dimensional Coherent Ultrafast Spectroscopy Datasets

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’ mission is to :

  1. advance needed research and educational paradigms that expand traditional disciplinary boundaries,
  2. solve grand challenge complex problems that are important for science and pressing for society,
  3. educate and develop creative and compassionate problem solvers and life-long learners, and
  4. facilitate an inclusive environment where happy faculty, students, postdocs, and staff can succeed.

Ilias’ vision is a research-driven, student-centric, job-focused 21st century department that synergistically pushes transformative Grand Challenge research while developing a diverse STEMM workforce with self-efficacy and data fluency. He currently leads UAB-Physics as it expands to become an internationally recognized center of excellence.

Ilias has restructured the Physics major into five threads designed to provide the skills required for 21st century careers tied to Grand Challenge problems facing science and society. Together with Dr. Lauren Rast, he launched project RAISE, Remotely Accessible Interdisciplinary STEMM Education, to explore innovative new ways of using emerging educational technologies to broaden participation in STEMM in ways that are not limited by geography and social, gender and economic disparities and achieve digital fluency. In the past, he designed a Scientist Citizen initiative and an active-learning environment where students try to figure out Bobo.

As a recognition of success, the Department of Physics received the 2023 American Physical Society’s (APS) Improving Undergraduate Physics Education Award as a role model for liberal arts colleges for improving the educational experiences of undergraduate students. This APS national award recognizes continuing success in recruiting a high number of physics majors, the research opportunities provided by our faculty, the development of numerous major tracks that prepare students for a wide range of career paths, and the department's dedication to diversity. This article highlights why UAB Physics is special.

Ilias' research focuses on theory, modeling & computation for optical manipulation of quantum materials far from equilibrium. He studies laser-driven superconducting, magnetic and topological systems and nanostructures for physics, quantum information science, and next-generation device applications. He uses time-dependent quantum many-body theory and numerical simulation to help design and interpret experiments that use state-of-the-art multi-dimensional spectroscopy tools. These new spectroscopic tools allow temporal, spectral, and spatial super-resolution under extreme conditions, for design, manipulation and imaging of advanced materials properties on THz/nm/fs extreme scales.

  • Research Interests

    What happens when quantum materials are excited far from equilibrium by intense and ultra-short laser pulses with well-defined relative phase? How can complex non-equilibrium phenomena and metastable quantum phases emerge from simple ingredients when driven by such controllable electromagnetic fields? How can we guide experiments to harness quantum mechanical coherence in light and matter? How will the information technology and photonics revolutions be extended going forward? How to use data science to analyze multi-dimensional spectroscopy experimental datasets in order to extract meaningful new correlated signals from the noise? Dr. Perakis’ research addresses these big questions, which are recognized as transformative opportunities that will shape our society’s future.

    During 2015-2021, together with his experimental partners at Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, and Brookhaven National Lab, Ilias established a new quantum control principle of THz dynamical symmetry breaking in superconducting and topological condensed matter systems during few cycles of electromagnetic field and atom oscillations. This work paves the way to Light-wave Quantum Electronics and materials design far from equilibrium. The main idea is to numerically design phase-coherent, intense, ultrashort Terahertz laser pulses to provide super-resolution imaging and to generate light-induced electronic interactions and quantum entanglement leading to desired materials properties. For example, the discovery of non-equilibrium gapless superconductivity by Ilias and his experimental collaborators was featured in the October 2019 cover page of Nature Photonics. His latest research achieves tomography and advanced imaging of quantum materials and light-controlled superconductivity by analyzing big datasets obtained with Multi-dimensional Terahertz Spectroscopy.

    Dr. Perakis 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 715/635 Advanced Statistical Mechanics
    • 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
    • "Quantum coherence tomography of light-controlled superconductivity," L. Luo, M. Mootz, J. H. Kang, C. Huang, K. Eom, J. W. Lee, C. Vaswani, Y. G. Collantes, E. E. Hellstrom, I. E. Perakis, C. B. Eom and J. Wang, Nature Physics (2022) https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-022-01827-1
    • "Visualization and quantum control of light-accelerated condensates by terahertz multi-dimensional coherent spectroscopy," Martin Mootz, Liang Luo, Jigang Wang and Ilias E. Perakis Communications Physics volume 5, Article number: 47 (2022)
    • "Light‐wave control of non‐equilibrium correlated states using quantum femtosecond magnetism and time-periodic modulation of coherent transport," P. C. Lingos, M. D. Kapetanakis, J. Wang, and I. E. Perakis, Communications Physics 4, 60 (2021)
    • "A light-induced phononic symmetry switch and giant dissipationless topological photocurrent in ZrTe5," Liang Luo, Di Cheng, Boqun Song, Lin-Lin Wang, Chirag Vaswani, PM Lozano, G Gu, Chuankun Huang, Richard HJ Kim, Zhaoyu Liu, Joong-Mok Park, Yongxin Yao, Kaiming Ho, Ilias E Perakis, Qiang Li, Jigang Wang, Nature Materials 20, 329 (2021)
    • "Light quantum control of persisting Higgs modes in iron-based superconductors," C Vaswani, JH Kang, M Mootz, Liang Luo, X Yang, C Sundahl, Di Cheng, Chuankun Huang, Richard HJ Kim, Zhiyan Liu, YG Collantes, EE Hellstrom, IE Perakis, CB Eom, Jing Wang, Nature Communications 12, 258 (2021)
    • "Terahertz Second‐Harmonic Generation from Lightwave Acceleration of Symmetry‐Breaking Nonlinear Supercurrents," C Vaswani, M Mootz,...,IE Perakis,..., J Wang, Physical Review Letters 124, 207003 (2020)
    • "Light‐Driven Raman Coherence as a Nonthermal Route to Ultrafast Topology Switching in a Dirac Semimetal," C Vaswani,...,M Mootz, IE Perakis,... J Wang, Physical Review X 10, 021013 (2020)
    • "Lightwave terahertz quantum control and sensing of non‐equilibrium phases and their collective modes in superconductors," M. Mootz, J. Wang, and I. E. Perakis, Physical Review B 102, 054517 (2020)
    • "Lightwave‐Driven Gapless Superconductivity and Forbidden Quantum Beats by Terahertz Symmetry Breaking," X. Yang, C. Vaswani, C. Sundahl, M. Mootz, L. Luo, J. H. Kang, I. E. Perakis, C. B. Eom and J. Wang, Nature Photonics 13, 707 (2019)

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

  • Popular Web Highlights of Recent Research Works
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • 2023 American Physical Society Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education
    • 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), International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), American Physical Society (APS), American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR)