Nicole A. Benedek

Assistant Professor
Materials Science and Engineering


Dr. Benedek received her BS in Chemistry (with First Class Honors) and PhD in Chemistry and Applied Physics, both from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her doctoral work focused on fundamental theoretical studies of weak interactions in mixed organic-inorganic molecular crystals. As a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College London, she studied the structures of grain boundaries in complex oxide ferroelectrics, with the goal of linking microstructure to electrical properties. As part of this work, she co-developed a computational technique for predicting the atomic-scale structures of interfaces in complex materials. Dr. Benedek continued her work on complex oxides as a postdoctoral fellow in Applied Physics at Cornell, where she discovered a new route to achieve electric field-control of the magnetization in a family of multiferroic perovskites, a class of materials that could enable the development of low-power electronic devices.

Research Interests

The Benedek group uses theory and first-principles calculations to advance fundamental understanding and create design rules for new classes of materials that may host new phenomena and properties. We are particularly interested in understanding and controlling the structures and properties of materials out of equilibrium. Recent work includes understanding how to induce extreme changes in material properties through ultrafast optical control of the crystal lattice (nonlinear phononics). Another major focus is on exploring the mechanisms of thermal transport in materials, with a view towards formulating design principles for dynamically controllable transport properties. Dr. Benedek’s research is supported by a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Cornell Center for Materials Research (an NSF MRSEC).

Selected Publications

  •  Ethan T. Ritz and Nicole A. Benedek, “Interplay between phonons and anisotropic elasticity drives negative thermal expansion in PbTiO3” Physical Review Letters 121 255901 (2018)
  • Guru Khalsa and Nicole A. Benedek, “Ultrafast optically induced ferromagnetic/anti-ferromagnetic phase transition in GdTiO3 from first principles” npj Quantum Materials 3 15 (2018)
  • Tong Zhu, Toby Cohen, Alexandra S. Gibbs, Weiguo Zhang, P. Shiv Halasyamani, Michael A. Hayward and Nicole A. Benedek, “Theory and neutrons combine to reveal a family of layered perovskites without inversion symmetry” Chemistry of Materials 29 9489 (2017)
  • Nicole A. Benedek and Turan Birol, “Ferroelectric metals reexamined: fundamental mechanisms and design considerations for new materials” Journal of Materials Chemistry C 4 4000 (2016)

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Journal of Materials Chemistry Emerging Investigator 2016
  • NSF CAREER Award 2015
  • Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award 2014
  • Australian Postgraduate Award 2003