Maria Viitaniemi

Mentor: Dr. Amlan Biswas
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"In my Intro to Physics class, I loved the demonstrations. It amazed me how you could feel the forces caused by the conservation of momentum in the bike-wheel experiment. If we could understand that after a few weeks in class, I wanted to see what else science could tell us. I want to make mathematical formulas come to life."





Research Interests

  • Experimental Physics

Academic Awards

  • Condensed Matter Fellowship (2013-14)
  • Barry Goldwater Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Wentworth Scholar (2011-13)
  • JM Rubin Foundation Scholar (2011-15)


  • Argentine Tango Club
  • Society of Physics Students


  • Sandsifters Beach Clean-ups

Hobbies and Interests

  • Social and Performance Dance
  • Traveling
  • Reading
  • \

Research Description

Phase transitions in Manganese Oxides

Hole-doped manganese oxides (manganites) have been shown to exhibit ferromagnetic and insulating phases simultaneously. This phase separated state leads to a number of useful transport and magnetic properties, such as piezoresistance. Piezoresistance is defined as a change in electrical resistance as a function of strain. I will be studying various factors that can produce and affect phase separation in La0.67Sr0.33MnO3 (LSMO) thin films. Until now, piezoresistance and the accompanying phase transitions have only been observed at low temperatures in manganese oxides. Additionally, it has been seen that LSMO thin films exhibit significantly different characteristics compared to LSMO crystals. One of my goals is to optimize LSMO thin film fabrication so that the phase transitions necessary for phase coexistence can be obtained near room temperature. The experimental procedure will include the cleaning and acid etching of the STO substrate, as well as controlling film thickness by varying the time pulsed laser deposition is performed. I will also characterize the surface quality of the thin films at room temperature and piezoresistance in these films at a variety of temperatures.