Alberto Cortijo Fernández is a new permanent researcher at the Material Science Institute of Madrid (ICMM-CSIC). But it is not the first time he is at our centre: "Actually, I have a past in the ICMM", he says. Cortijo developed his thesis here back in 2007, and after a couple of postdoc periods, he also came back to ICMM in 2013. "Then I decided to move to UAM as a Ramon y Cajal researcher for other reasons". Now, he is part of the Theory and Quantum Materials and Solid State Quantum Technologies Group.
What have you worked on so far?
I’ve developed all my research around the notion of Dirac Matter and the topological properties of their several incarnations. This topic went through several major breakthroughs, starting from graphene, two-dimensional topological insulators, and three-dimensional topological semimetals, together with what we call topological analogs.
What will you work on?
What I want to do at the ICMM is to keep developing the field of topological states of matter, both at the classical (photonic) and quantum level, keeping an eye on the potential applications of all of this to the field of quantum technologies. Also, I want to develop a new research line concerning Non-Hermitian topological physics. This is a rather new field that is rapidly developing (perhaps too fast) from the theoretical side, but there are a lot of things that can be done in experiments, and many of them can be carried out here in the ICMM. So I plan to collaborate as much as I can with my theoretical fellows, but I’m really focused on starting new collaboration venues with experimentalists here.
Why did you choose ICMM?
Why not? As I mentioned, I have a past here so I’m pretty aware of what kind of research can be done at the ICMM, and most importantly, what are the new research venues I can take for the future. ICMM is an excellent place to do that.
And a personal touch: any hobbies? What would you like to contribute to the institute?
I’m a board game enthusiast, I enjoy them very much. It is interesting, but there is a lot of potential in board games to both teach STEM capabilities to younger people and for outreach.