James Kakalios

Jim Kakalios

James Kakalios

Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy


Physics And Nanotechnology Building
Room 352
115 Union St. Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Kakalios Group


Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1985

M.S., University of Chicago, 1982

B.S. (Summa cum laude), City College of New York, 1979

Professional Background

  • Taylor Distinguished Professor, University of Minnesota, 2008 - present
  • Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Minnesota, 2007 - 2010
  • Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Minnesota, 2001 - 2004
  • Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, 1993 - 2001
  • Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, 1988 - 1993
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Xerox-Palo Alto Research Center, 1985 - 1988
  • Summer Research Assistant, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1979, 1978

Scientific & Professional Societies

  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • American Association of Physics Teachers
  • Materials Research Society
  • Phi Beta Kappa


Upon joining the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota in 1988, I have built up a research program in experimental condensed matter physics, with particular emphasis on complex and disordered systems.

My current research ranges from the Nano to the Neuro, with active studies of the optical and electronic properties of hydrogenated amorphous silicon thin films containing nanocrystalline inclusions in addition to investigations of voltage fluctuations recorded from the brains of awake, behaving rats. The former project seeks to elucidate the properties of these mixed phase materials in order to optimize their characteristics for solar cell applications and thin film transistors, while the neuroscience program has led to the identification of a coherent oscillation in the striatum which may have implications for our understanding of Parkinson's Disease.

Research Interests

The primary goal of my research is the elucidation of the properties of disordered systems. Experimental investigations include studies of the electronic and optical properties of amorphous semiconductors, segregation phenomena in granular media , and fluctuation phenomena in neurological systems.

Thin films of hydrogenated amorphous silicon containing crystalline silicon nanoparticles are synthesized using a unique dual-chamber plasma enhanced chemical vapor co-deposition system at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with Prof. Uwe Kortshagen in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.

A measure of the power of this materials synthesis process is the fabrication of hydrogenated amorphous silicon in which nanocrystalline germanium inclusions are embedded. As the nc-Ge content is increased, we observe a striking transition from n-type to p-type conduction, as reflected in measurements of the Seebeck coefficient.

Techniques developed to study non-Gaussian fluctuations in amorphous silicon have been applied to local field potentials recorded from awake, behaving rats in Prof. A. David Redish's laboratory in the Dept. of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.

Honors and Awards

  • Klopsteg Memorial Lecture Award, American Association of Physics Teachers, 2020
  • George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Service, University of Minnesota, 2018
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Lincoln (U.K.), 2017
  • Andrew Gemant Award, American Institute of Physics, 2016
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2015
  • AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science, 2014
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2013
  • National WEBBY award nominee, "The Science of Watchmen", 2010
  • Upper Midwest Regional EMMY Award, "The Science of Watchmen", 2009
  • Taylor Distinguished Professor, 2008-present
  • Charles E. Bowers Faculty Teaching Award, 2003
  • Institute of Technology Student Board –Professor of the Year, 2003
  • Associate Fellow, Minnesota Supercomputer Institute 1995-1999
  • National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, 1990 - 1995
  • McKnight Land Grant Professor, University of Minnesota, 1989 - 1992
  • Marc Perry Galler Award for Student Research, The University of Chicago, 1986
  • Graduate Student Award of the Materials Research Society, 1984
  • AT&T Bell Labs Ph.D. Scholarship, 1983-1985


  • The Physics of Everyday Things, Crown, 2017
  • The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, Avery, 2010
  • The Physics of Superheroes, Gotham Books, 2005

Selected Publications

  1. B. Knauber, A. Eslamisaray, and J. Kakalios, “Conductance Fluctuations in Hydrogenated Amorphous Germanium,” J. Appl. Phys. 130, 105107 (2021).
  2. Z. Razieli, N. Bosch, Lagy Baby, L. Stolik Valor, R. Yohay, R. Rusack and J. Kakalios, “Proton Radiation-Induced Enhancement of Conductivity of Composite Amorphous/Nanocrystalline Silicon Thin Films,” Phys. Rev. Materials 4, 55604 (2020).
  3. J. K. Nangoi, K. Bodurtha and J. Kakalios, “Photo-Induced Enhancement of the Dark Conductivity in Nanocrystalline Germanium/Amorphous Silicon Composite Thin Films,” J. Appl. Phys. 124, 165102 (2018).
  4. K. Bodurtha and J. Kakalios, “Non-Arrhenius Anomalous Hopping Electronic Conduction in Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon and Composite Amorphous/Nanocrystalline Thin Films,” J. Appl. Phys. 118, 215103 (2015).
  5. K. Bodurtha and J. Kakalios, "Thermopower of Nanocrystalline Germanium/Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon Composite Thin Films," J. of Appl, Physics (2013)
  6. L. R. Wienkes, C. Blackwell, T. Hutchinson and J. Kakalios, "Conduction Mechanisms in Doped Mixed-Phase Hydrogenated Amorphous/Nanocrystalline Silicon Thin Films", J. Appl. Phys. (2013)
  7. B. Masimore, N. C. Schmitzer-Torbet, J. Kakalios and A. D. Redish, "Transient Striatal (gamma) Local Field Potentials Signal Movement Initiation in Rats," NeuroReport (2005)
  8. Y. Adjallah, C. Anderson, U. Kortshagen and J. Kakalios, "Structural and Electronic Properties of Dual Plasma Co-Deposited Mixed-Phase Amorphous/Nanocrystalline Thin Films”, J. Appl. Phys (2010)
  9. B. Masimore, J. Kakalios and A. David Redish, "Measuring Fundamental Frequencies in Local Field Potentials," J. Neuroscience Methods 138, 97 (2004)
  10. S. Thompson, C. R. Perrey, C. B. Carter, T. J. Belich, J. Kakalios and U. Kortshagen, "Experimental Investigations into the Formation of Nanoparticles in a/nc-Si:H Thin Films," J. Appl. Phys. 97, 34,310 (2005)
  11. J. Kakalios, "Granular Physics or Nonlinear Dynamics in a Sandbox," Resource Letter GP-1, American Journal of Physics 73, 8 (2005)
  12. K. M. Hill, A. Caprihan and J. Kakalios, "Bulk Segreagtion in Rotated Granular Material Measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging"Phys. Rev. Lett. (1997)
  13. Lisa M. Lust and J. Kakalios, "Dynamical Percolation Model of Conductance Fluctuations in Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon," Phys. Rev. Lett. 75, 2129 (1995)
  14. C. E. Parman, N. E. Israeloff and J. Kakalios, Conductance Noise Power Fluctuations in Hydrogenated Amorphous SiliconPhys. Rev. Lett. 69, 1097 (1992)