David Goldhaber-Gordon

Photo by Ziva Mann
Contacting me:
Stanford University
Laboratory for Advanced Materials
McCullough Building, Room 346
Stanford, CA 94305-4045
Phone: (650) 724-3709
Fax: (650) 724-3681

Long CV in pdf format
lab web page

About Me
I'm a physicist specializing in condensed-matter experiment, particularly spins of electrons confined to submicron semiconductor structures. Before joining Stanford in Fall 2001, I was a Junior Fellow and chocolate steward in Harvard's Society of Fellows. In Fall 2001 I joined the Stanford Physics Department as an Assistant Professor (I'm now a tenured Professor. My lab is located in the Geballe Lab for Advanced Materials, which brings together physicists, applied physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers, all with interests in (you guessed it!) materials.

My wife Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon is a Rabbi. She also has a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Ilana and I have a son, Z (11 years old as of this writing), and daughters S (9) and Y (infant). Unfortunately, I have not gotten around to posting family photos for a long time, so you'll have to be satisfied with really old ones: Z as a baby, and no S or Y. Fortunately, in my totally-biased opinion, Z was a cute baby. Also, S and Y as babies looked much like Z did years earlier. Z Goldhaber-Gordon, seen here in the hospital. See pictures from Z's bris. See some more pictures of Z at nearly 3 weeks (taken by our friend Matthew Gray). More miscellaneous pictures up through three weeks, some taken by Aunt Sara. Pardon broken links and rotation errors in this one. Z from Six to Eight Weeks, including the famous "Expressions" series, taken over a period of one minute. Four generations of Goldhaber men. Clockwise from left: Michael, Maurice, Fred, David, and Z (Photos by Suzan Goldhaber, expert GIMPing by Matthew Gray). A long-awaited series of photos bringing us up to Z's six-month birthday. Note that these are stills captured from digital video, hence they're very lively but not suitable for blowing up to large size. Feeding time at the zoo. Other pictures of Z at around 8 months. Z at ten to eleven months, including Yosemite (some taken by Matthew or Carrie Gray).
About Me: Background
I grew up on the North shore of Long Island, in the small village of Setauket (near the State University of New York, Stony Brook) and attended the excellent public schools there, including Ward Melville High School. I spent many summers in beautiful Northern New Mexico, including several working at Los Alamos National Lab. During high school, I also spent a year with my family in Cambridge, England, where I attended fourth form at The Perse School. After high school, I went to college and graduate school at two very different institutions in Cambridge, MA: Harvard and MIT, respectively. For more details, check out my CV in pdf format. For a reasonably complete list of my publications and citations, see my Google Scholar page. Or look me up on the Los Alamos cond-mat preprint archive. My group website has pdf copies of most of the papers on its publications page.
About Me: Professional Interests
If you're thinking of applying to physics graduate school, thinking of coming to Stanford, or already at Stanford as an undergrad or grad student, I'd encourage you to contact me if you find my work interesting. I may be taking on one or more grad students next year, and possibly one or more undergrads as well. To help you reach us, there's a page with group members' names and contact info, plus a short description of some of our work.

My group's experiments aim to elucidate how electrons in semiconductors behave when they are confined to small "boxes", restricted to discrete quantized states (instead of being able to move freely) in one, two, or even all three spatial dimensions. This emerging field of enquiry is called mesoscopic physics, exploring as it does length scales between the microscopic size of atoms and the macroscopic scale of conveniently-grasped everyday objects. Over the last two decades, mesoscopic physics has forced us to grapple with new ways of thinking about quantum mechanics, measurement, and dephasing, especially for systems of interacting particles.

What about electrons' behavior is different when they are confined? Electrons confined to a plane exhibit a fascinating range of behavior, from the fractional quantum Hall effect at high magnetic field (explained by Stanford's own Bob Laughlin) to a still-mysterious metal-insulator transition as electron density is reduced. Electrons confined to move in a line form a so-called Luttinger liquid. In contrast to the independent behavior of electrons in a familiar Fermi liquid, these electrons have to travel single-file, so the smallest bump in the potential they feel can bring them all to a screeching halt. Finally, electrons can be confined in all three dimensions in a "quantum dot" or "artificial atom". As in a real atom, a small, integer number (1 to 100) of electrons is confined to a small space. Adding or removing an electron (analogous to ionization of an atom) takes energy, as does exciting electrons to higher quantized states. At 10 to 1000 nanometer size, artificial atoms are far larger than real atoms, so their ionization and excitation energies are correspondingly lower; nonetheless, at low temperature the number of electrons is stable, and they remain in their collective ground state.

See my group website for updated info on research plans.

My first student to graduate, Ron Potok, wrote a dissertation about his observation of the 2-channel Kondo effect in a semiconductor nanostructure. In addition to the exotic strongly-correlated electron physics, he also gives some useful info on electrical filtering to achieve ultra-low electron temperature (12 mK). I need to put all the other theses on-line soon.
About Me: Personal Interests
Physics, The Southwest, Books, Games
I'm interested in many areas of science, though I tend to think like a physicist about all of them. My current research is described above. Other topics which particularly excite me include astrophysics, condensed-matter ideas applied to atomics physics, biophysics, and especially particle physics. When I was an undergrad, I worked on an experiment to detect neutrino oscillations. It didn't work --- the distance between source and detector turned out to be too short by two orders of magnitude. But more recently another experiment (in which my grandfather participated) succeeded in observing oscillations, indicating that neutrinos have a small but nonzero mass.
The Southwest U.S.
I spent most of my childhood summers in Northern New Mexico, and the beautiful light, stark landscapes, and Native American art and culture, plus many old friends, continue to draw me there (sadly, not as often now). I spent a few summers at Los Alamos National Lab, first in a summer science program for high school students and then studying the physics of the inner ear under the auspices of the Center for Nonlinear Studies (Los Alamos has a thriving civilian research program along with its more famous military programs).
I read eclectically, but well-textured language and a strong, connected story are always important to my enjoyment. I like SF of the "societal fiction" rather than hard Sci Fi mold --- stories that posit interesting technological conditions and use them as a tool to explore human nature, rather than just showing off neat toys. In this genre, I'm fond of Iain M. Banks, Larry Niven, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, some old Asimov, and many others. I also like fantasy, whether traditional swords-and-sorcery or creative explorations of the basic premises of magic. These works are not always easily separated from Sci Fi, and I think that's a good thing. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke. Lately I've especially enjoyed Stephen Brust's parodic but loving tributes to The Three Musketeers: The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After. They are set in the same world as his Jhereg series, so reading a few of those will aid understanding and enjoyment. Ursula LeGuin is wonderful, as is Italo Calvino, and neither fits neatly in a box. The Harry Potter books are not half bad, vividly evoking the setting of a British public (i.e. private) school. I just hope they inspire people to seek out some of the wonderful works they draw on.

I like mysteries in which a richly-detailed setting or activity plays a central role, particularly if it's art history, books (what else!), or games. Outstanding examples are An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte (best if you play chess), and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Red herrings are fine, but I'm frustrated if the ending invokes a deus ex machina (or ex magica!), as in the otherwise delightful works The Club Dumas by Perez-Reverte and The Forgetting Room by Nick Bantock. This may seem surprising in a dedicated reader of fantasy, but it shouldn't be. I'm willing to suspend disbelief and accept any premise so long as it's faithfully followed to a conclusion. I just won't accept a sloppy changing of the rules without sufficient warning or motivation.

I also like reading history of science, (semi-)popular science, and scientific biography. They give me broader insights into a world of which I am personally exploring an intriguing but necessarily narrow cranny. The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner is brilliant, and delightfully explained how strongly evolution acts today, even away from the ravages of our species. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is an amazing tour of the history of the universe from the Big Bang through the rise of life, including a parallel tour of how that history was elucidated by many generations of scientists. I highly recommend it for scientists, and for others who are interested in what our enterprise is all about.

You can also see a list of things I'm hoping/planning to read.
I like games, especially board games. There's been a tremendous increase in the variety and quality of board and card games available in the U.S. over the last few years, spurred by imports and translations of games from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. One of my favorite designers, Reiner Knizia, hit the nail on the head when he said that a well-designed game is a good platform for interacting with people. I like RoboRally, Tutankhamen, Isi, 6 Nimmt, and many others including more traditional games like bridge. Contact me if you're interested in playing.

I also like interactive fiction: text-based computer games in the style of the old Infocom games, like Enchanter and Zork. You can even play a free Java version of Zork! Like board games, interactive fiction has recently experienced a renaissance, with new programmers writing distinctive, enjoyable, and addictive games, and distributing them for free. Try Christminster by Gareth Rees, Curses by Graham Nelson, or So Far or Spider and Web by Andrew Plotnik, all of which mix puzzles with compelling characters and atmosphere. You can also still get almost all the old Infocom games cheaply on a CD. An interpreter such as ZIP (written by Mark Howell) is all you need to run most of these games, including the old Infocoms. Download it for any popular operating system from this ftp site ... But don't say I didn't warn you about addiction ...
Other interests include music (Bela Fleck, The Bobs, The Beatles, Billy Joel, Bach, Bartok, and Bob Dylan, and that's just the B's).
About Me: Family
My wife Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon is a rabbinical student. She also has a PhD in Biology (Biochemistry) at MIT. Her scientific interests revolve around protein-DNA interactions. As mentioned above, she has a new biochemistry textbook coming out.

My parents, Suzan and Fred Goldhaber, still live in Setauket, N.Y. My mother has retired from teaching reading to junior high school students in the public schools, and has more time to garden, travel the world, etc. My father is a Professor at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at SUNY Stony Brook. For a long time his specialty was magnetic monopoles, as-yet unobserved particles that you'd think you'd get if you cut a bar magnet in half. In reality, you just get two smaller bar magnets. More recently he has become interested in electrons in condensed matter, especially the quantum Hall effects. Fred had a sixtieth birthday symposium at which I had the pleasure of learning about some of his diverse work over the years, as well as presenting some of my own work.

My sister and brother-in-law, Sara and Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, live nearby in Palo Alto. Sara is an anesthesiologist at Stanford, and Jeremy a faculty member in Public Health at Stanford. Sara and Jeremy took some nice pictures during a family trip to eastern Utah in December 2000.

My grandparents all emigrated from Germany in the 1930s, fleeing Hitler. My mother's parents, Eva and Walter Kress, unfortunately died when I was quite young, but I have fond memories of them. Walter worked with industrial diamonds. His workshop in the garage was filled with meticulously-labelled boxes of fantastic parts, right down to "pieces of string too small to use"! My father's parents were both eminent physicists who spent most of their careers at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and then Brookhaven National Laboratory. One of their best-known pieces of work was a collaborative experiment which demonstrated that beta rays are electrons. My grandmother, Gertrude Scharff Goldhaber, died in the 1990s. My grandfather, Maurice Goldhaber, died in 2011 at the age of 100, having gone to the lab every day into his 90s. In his 90s he wrote a paper on how to look in existing data for clues to physics beyond the Standard Model.

Maurice's brother, Gerson Goldhaber, was also a physicist, famous for his role in the discovery of the J/Psi particle. Around 1990, he switched fields to observational cosmology, and he was an important member of the Berkeley-based Supernova Cosmology Project, which discovered an unexpected acceleration of the expansion of the universe, recognized by the Nobel Prize to team leader Saul Perlmutter and two leaders of a competing Harvard-based team. Gerson and his wife Judith collaborated on retelling 100 of Aesop's famous sonnets. The resulting book, Sonnets from Aesop, in which witty and touching sonnets by Judith are paired with Gerson's beautiful paintings, was honored with an IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) as one of the ten Outstanding Books of the Year published by an independent press in 2005. It makes a great gift for yourself or a friend, as does their follow-up Sonnets from Genesis. Note: I receive no financial consideration for products I recommend on this page. In fact, when they can easily be located on the web I generally don't even provide an explicit link for ordering. I made an exception for this one since it's both excellent and by a family member. Gerson died in 2010.

Gerson's son Nat Goldhaber is a high-tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist. His wife Marilyn Goldhaber is an epidemiologist and member of the board of directors of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy.

Gerson and Judy's daughter Michaela Goldhaber is a Producer and Director who was one of the leaders of New York's Flying Fig Theater, "dedicated to producing compelling theatrical stories about women's lives, through commissioning new plays by contemporary playwrights and rediscovering plays from the past." Michaela's sister Shaya Goldhaber is a makeup artist who has worked in film, television, and print.

Ilana's parents, Evvy and Robert Gordon, live in Skokie, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Evvy recently finished a career teaching in the local Jewish high school and then as a social worker at The Ark, a charity offering medical, social welfare, legal and similar human services to those in need. Robert is a Professor and (until recently) Head of the Chemistry Department of the University of Illinois, Chicago. His lab studies the physics of simple molecules, and he is a pioneer in the field of coherent control of chemical processes.

Ilana's brother Dov is a computer scientist, focused on theory of cryptography.

Ilana's sister Tamar is a Clinical Psychologist in New York, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy which rests on the premise that people can change their feelings by changing the way they think and behave.