Research Interests

Electronic and magnetic materials are the central focus of the Leighton Group's research. We study a wide variety of materials, such as nanostructures, thin films, heterostructures, bulk polycrystals, and single crystals. We focus on topics with a strong fundamental science component that are in close proximity to applications in technology, including data storage and processing and electronic devices. Projects in our group feature fabrication of films and crystals, detailed structural and chemical characterization, and in-depth measurement by numerous techniques, including transport, neutron and X-ray scattering, magnetometry, and heat capacity. Our work is highly collaborative, and we are involved in two UMN centers: the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and the DOE Center for Quantum Materials.

Current research projects include:

(i) Electrolyte gating of functional materials

(ii) Perovskite films and heterostructures, particularly cobaltites and stannates

(iii) Metallic delafossites

(iv) Spin transport in metals

(v) Metallic magnetic nanoparticles

(vi) Pyrite photovoltaics

For more details, please see our group’s webpage.


  • University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers, 2020
  • Morse - Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, 2020
  • Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, 2020
  • Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2020
  • Cozzarelli Prize (with F. Bates and S. Lee), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015
  • Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, 2015
  • Distinguished McKnight University Professorship, 2014
  • George W. Taylor Distinguished Research Award, 2013
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2012
  • UC Santa Barbara Emerging Leader Speaker, 2008
  • McKnight Presidential Fellowship Award, 2007
  • George W. Taylor Career Development Award, 2007
  • Institute of Technology Student Board Award, 2003
  • Russell Prize, University of Durham, UK, 1998

Selected Publications

  • From 2022:
  • Room temperature valence transition in a strain-tuned perovskite oxide”, V. Chaturvedi, S. Ghosh, D. Gautreau, P. Quarterman, P.P. Balakrishnan, B.J. Kirby, H. Zhou, H. Cheng, A. Huon, T. Charlton, M.R. Fitzsimmons, W.M. Postiglione, A. Jacobson, C. Korostynki, J.E. Dewey, J.G. Barriocanal, T. Birol, K.A. Mkhoyan and C. Leighton, in press, Nat. Commun. (2022).
  • Voltage control of patterned metal/insulator properties in oxide/oxyflouride lateral perovskite heterostructures via ion gel gating”, B.M. Lefler, W.M. Postiglione, C. Leighton and S.J. May, Adv. Func. Mater. (2022).
  • Thermal properties of the metallic delafossite PdCoO 2 : a combined experimental and first- principles study”, Y. Zhang, A. Saha, F. Tutt, V. Chaturvedi, B. Voigt, W. Moore, J. Garcia- Barriocanal, T. Birol and C. Leighton, Phys. Rev. Mater. 6, 115004 (2022).
  • Electrolyte-gate-driven carrier density modulation and metal-insulator transition in semiconducting epitaxial CdO films”, H. Wang, W. Postiglione, V. Chaturvedi, E.L. Runnerstrom, J.-P. Maria, APL Mater. 10, 121106 (2022).
  • Collective ferromagnetism of artificial square spin ice”, N. Bingham, X. Zhang, J. Ramberger, O. Heinonen, C. Leighton and P. Schiffer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 067201 (2022).
  • P-type conductivity in Sn-doped Sb 2 Se 3 ”, T.D.C. Hobson, H. Shiel, C.N. Savory, J.E.N. Swallow, L.A.H. Jones, T.J. Featherstone, M.J. Smiles, P.K. Thakur, T.-L. Lee, B. Das, C. Leighton, G. Zoppi, V.R. Dhanak, D.O. Scanlon, K. Durose, J.D. Major and T.D. Veal, in press, J. Phys.: Energy 4, 045006 (2022).
  • What controls electrostatic vs. electrochemical response in electrolyte-gated materials? A perspective on critical materials factors”, C. Leighton, T. Birol and J. Walter, APL Mater. 10, 040901 (2022).
  • Finite-size effect in phonon-induced Elliott-Yafet spin relaxation in Al”, J.D. Watts, J.T. Batley, N.A. Rabideau, J.P. Hoch, L. O’Brien, P.A. Crowell and C. Leighton, Phys. Rev. Lett. 128, 207201 (2022). (Editor’s Suggestion).
  • Electrochemical mechanism of ionic-liquid gating in antiferromagnetic Mott-insulating NiS 2 single crystals”, S. Hameed, B. Voigt, J. Dewey, W. Moore, D. Pelc, B. Das, S. El-Khatib, J. Garcia- Barriocanal, B. Luo, N. Seaton, C. Leighton and M. Greven, Phys. Rev. Mater. 6, 064601 (2022).
  • Magnetic-field-dependent thermodynamic properties of square and quadrupolar artificial spin ice” M. Goryca, X. Zhang, J.D. Watts, C. Leighton, C. Nisoli, P. Schiffer and S.A. Crooker, Phys. Rev. B. 105, 094406 (2022).
  • Chemically-induced magnetic dead shells in superparamagnetic Ni nanoparticles from polarized small-angle neutron scattering”, B. Das, J. Batley, C. Korostynski, M. Nguyen, I. Kamboj, K. Krycka, P. Quarterman, J. Borchers, E.S. Aydil and C. Leighton, ACS. Appl. Mater. Interf. 14, 33491 (2022).
  • Entropy-driven order in an array of nanomagnets”, H. Saglam, A. Duzgun, A. Kargioti, N. Harle, X. Zhang, N.S. Bingham, Y. Lao, I. Gilbert, J. Sklenar, J.D. Watts, J. Ramberger, D. Bromley, R. Chopdekar, L. O’Brien, C. Leighton, C. Nisoli, and P. Schiffer, Nat. Phys. 18, 706 (2022).
  • 226. “The essential role of magnetic frustration in the phase diagrams of doped cobaltites”, P.P. Orth, D. Phelan, J. Zhao, H. Zheng, J.F. Mitchell, C. Leighton and R.M. Fernandes, Phys. Rev. Mater. Letters 6, L071402 (2022).
  • Enhanced superconductivity and ferroelectric quantum criticality in plastically deformed strontium titanate”, S. Hameed, D. Pelc, Z.W. Anderson, A. Klein, R.J. Spieker, L. Yue, B. Das, J. Ramberger, M. Lukas, Y. Liu, M.J. Krogstad, R. Osborn, Y. Li, C. Leighton, R.M. Fernandes and M. Greven, Nat. Mater. 21, 54 (2022).
Chris Leighton


Phone: 612/625-4018

Office: 48 Amundson Hall

Leighton Research Group



Support Chris Leighton's Research

  • B.Sc. Physics: University of Durham, England, 1994.
  • Ph.D. Physics (Condensed Matter): University of Durham, England, 1998