Stevan Nađ-Perge, PhD, of the California Institute of Technology, received the ‘Marko Jarić Prize’ for 2021, dubbed the ’Serbian Nobel in physics’ by the domestic media. As cited in the Panel’s statement, the Marko Jarić Prize was awarded to Dr Nadj-Perge for his outstanding scientific achievement in the studying of graphene-based nanomaterials. One of the things the research of Dr Nađ-Perge focuses on is the structure of mutually twisted bilayer graphemes, which are interesting to physicists for several reasons. According to Dr Nađ-Perge, seemingly, they should behave as one layer, but this is only the case with a twist angle greater than five degrees. ‘However, in the case of twisted bilayer graphene with a twist angle of around 1.1, which is the so-called magic angle, this material behaves completely differently and can become a superconductor, insulator or a regular metal, depending on the number of electrons in it’, explains Dr Nađ-Perge.
The group in which Dr Nađ-Perge works at the California Institute of Technology engages in the study of such multilayer grapheme structures, as well as microscopy and measuring transport properties of various quantum materials. This team has achieved notable results, so the papers of this year’s recipient of the ‘Marko Jarić Prize’ in which he worked on the above-mentioned structures, have been published in the most prestigious world scientific journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Physics и Physical Review Letters.
‘The objective of my research is broadening our understanding of the electronic state in these systems’, states Dr Nađ-Perge, emphasizing that more experiments and several years of work are necessary to establish the properties of a material. ‘I am especially glad, and it is interesting to me that we managed to carry out some of the first experiments in this field thus contributing to the understanding of basic properties and superconductivity in twisted bilayer graphemes’, considered his work Dr Nađ-Perge.
Even before coming to the California Institute of Technology, Dr Nađ-Perge had notable success, and he engaged in the physics of quantum dots in semiconductor nanowires at Delft University of Technology. Having completed his doctorate, he received Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University where he studied topological insulators and super-conductors. During these postdoctoral studies, his main results concerned topological Majorana bound states, and papers from this period were published in the Science journal, achieving high citations.
The research he conducts nowadays is mainly motivated by the realization of topological Majorana states. ’These states are pretty unstable and it is difficult to run an experiment which will unmistakably prove their topological properties’, explicates Dr Nađ Perge, adding that new superconductive materials can potentially be used for the realization of topological Majorana states.
‘Research on new materials and the experiments which we and other groups conduct are constantly improving and updating our understanding of nature. They are usually detailed studies advancing the frontiers of science, little by little, step by step’, states Dr Nađ-Perge, admitting that it is difficult to assess how this field and individual experiments are to be significant in the grand scheme of things.
Speaking about the position of science, primarily physics in Serbia, and what our institutions lack to be able to conduct research such as the ones he is working on, Dr Nadj-Perge says that he is not sufficiently familiar with the current situation in Serbia, but that this complicated research requires significant and constant investments that are difficult to achieve even in many countries of the European Union. When talking about science in Serbia, Dr Nađ-Perge says that he does not keep in touch with domestic physicians as much as he would like to. ‘Distance, time difference and a lot of obligations definitely make it harder to ensure and maintain cooperation. I hope there will be more opportunities in the future’, declares Dr Nađ-Perge.
Dr Stevan Nađ-Perge completed the Mathematical Grammar School in Belgrade, and he obtained his BSc and MSc in theoretical physics from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Belgrade. During his education, he won multiple awards. ‘I am immensely grateful to all my mentors, teachers and professors who have had an impact on my development as a physician. In this sense, institutions such as the Mathematical Grammar School, Petnica Science Center, Institute of Physics, Belgrade and the Faculty of Physics have been crucial for me. Without them, I would not be where I am now’, concludes Dr Nađ-Perge.