Principal Investigator


Jianshu Cao
jianshu [at]

Our group develops theoretical models for understanding the structure and dynamics of complex molecular systems. Establishing relationships between these models and experimental observables allows us to explore new ways of describing chemical and biological processes on multiple time and length scales.


Postdoctoral Associates


Javier Cerrillo
cerrillo [at]

With a background in quantum technologies, my research focuses on the description of phonon assisted transport in excitonic chains as well as the characterization of dynamics in biomolecular systems from the perspective of quantum process tomography. Additionally, I am interested in the optimization of coherent driving techniques for population inversion as well as classical simulation of quantum many body systems.


Liam Cleary
licleary [at]

My current research concerns the transport phenomena of elementary excitations in quantum dissipative systems, in particular, the optimization of excitonic energy transfer processes in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes, namely the light harvesting complexes of LH-II B850 and LH-I B875 found in purple bacteria. My broader interests include all of condensed matter physics, in particular transport in quantum and semiclassical dissipative systems. I enjoy being a member of the APS division of condensed matter physics (DCMP) and the topical group on statistical and nonlinear physics (GSNP).


Arend Dijkstra
arend [at]

My research focuses on energy transport in complex materials. Unlike traditional materials studied in physics, many systems of current interest, such as those found in biology and artificial organic electronics, are disordered and warm. I am interested in the movement of energy through such materials and the importance of quantum effects. In the past I have worked on amide vibrations in peptides, electronic excitations in biological light-harvesting complexes and DNA and on problems in quantum information theory. In order to make a comparison with experiment possible I calculate not only the energy dynamics but also (nonlinear) optical observables, in particular, two-dimensional spectra.


Lipeng Lai
lail [at]

My current research focuses on the interaction between cells and vessel walls in blood flow, which is motivated by gaining a better understanding of the behavior of red blood cells infected by parasites. Different aspects are involved in this complex process, such as the mechanical and physiological properties of the cells, the hydrodynamic properties of blood, etc. We expect to better understand this process through analytic models, in which we hope to take into account multiple effects including the deformability of cells, the dynamic process of bond formation between cells and vessel walls, and the interaction between cells and the blood flow.


Jian Ma
majian [at]

I am working on multi-chromophoric Foerster resonant energy transfer (MC-FRET) theory and polariton condensates in semiconductor quantum wells.


Jeremy Moix
jmoix [at]

I'm interested in the fundamental aspects of energy transport that occur, for example, in organic photovoltaics and photosynthetic systems. We primarily focus on simple models of these systems with the hope of providing some general scaling relations to guide the design of more efficient devices. To this end, we've developed exact path integral methods that allow us to study the interplay of thermal fluctuations, exciton-phonon interactions, and Anderson localization on the equilibrium, dynamics, and spectroscopic properties of these systems.


Xinliang Xu
xlxu [at]

My work tries to build analytical models in order to achieve a better understanding about the property-structure relationship of DNA. More specificly, we would like to know if deformations of DNA from its ideal structures have an impact on DNA's ability to bind with external proteins, and how does such an impact behave as a function of the distance between the binding site and the deformation site. A good description of such property-structure relation will greatly enhance our ability in designing proteins (drugs) for more efficient detections of DNA defects so as to help cure the disease associated with such genetic defects.



Chern Chuang
chernc [at]

Recent advances in experimental characterization of natural (chlorosome in green sulfur bacteria) and artificial tubular aggregates had shed light on the optical and dynamical energy transfer properties of these systems. My current work is focusing on the calculation these physical properties based on exciton models. In specific, we apply the theory of multichromophoric Foerster resonance energy transfer to these gigantic light-harvesting systems.


Evan Piephoff
depiepho [at]

Recent advances in condensed-phase spectroscopy have afforded single-molecule analysis, which lends itself to unique insights into dynamic molecular behavior. On the theoretical front, single-molecule kinetic processes can be described by several equivalent stochastic formalisms. Initially developed for renewal processes (those with a single type of monitored transition), the self-consistent pathway framework is one such formalism of particular interest because it can describe generic kinetic schemes in terms of measurable waiting-time distribution functions of arbitrary form (i.e., constituent transitions need not be Poissonian). The focus of my current research is on extending this formalism to non-renewal processes, such as enzymatic turnovers with conformational fluctuations and fluorescence with multiple emission states, and characterizing the information content, including the non-Markovian memory effects, of such signals in terms of measurable parameters.


Michael Reppert
mreppert [at]

I work jointly between the research groups of Jianshu Cao and Andrei Tokmakoff. My research focuses on bridging the gap between experimental electronic and infrared spectroscopic data and the theoretical description of complex biological problems including energy transfer in biological photosynthetic complexes and protein structure and dynamics (particularly in disordered peptides).


Thanasak Sathitwitayakul
thanasak [at]

I attempt to build models to explain the energy transfer process in light-harvesting systems. Currently, I am working on theories for a 1-D quantum transport system.

SMART Program (Singapore)

Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology

Zhang Xiao Yu (Visiting student, 2012)

Wu Hao (Visiting student, 2011-2012)

Zhao Wei (Postgraduate, 2011-Present)

Himanshu Singh (Postgraduate, 2011-Present)

Xu Xiao Feng (Postgraduate, 2010-Present)

Ji Hyun Kim (Postdoctoral associate)


Former Members

Previous Group Photo (2008)

Previous Group Photo (2012)

Young Shen (Postdoctoral associate)

Jianlan Wu (Postgraduate/Postdoctoral associate)

Lorin Gutman (Postdoctoral associate)

Seogjoo Jang (Postdoctoral associate)

Maksym Kryvohuz (Postgraduate)

James Witkoskie (Postgraduate)

Shilong Yang (Postgraduate)

Alex Zhukov (Postdoctoral associate)