Luis E. F. Foa Torres (b. 1978) is a condensed matter physicist. Since 2016 he is an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Chile (FCFM). Before he worked in Argentina as a CONICET Independent Research Scientist; in Germany as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (TU Dresden); in France, at CEA-Grenoble; and in Italy, at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, first as a postdoctoral fellow, then as Junior Associate of the Condensed Matter Section (2011-2016) and, more recently, and as a Simons' Associate of the Condensed Matter Section of ICTP (2020-present). He was awarded the ICTP Prize in 2018 in recognition of his work.
His research is focused on quantum transport, two-dimensional materials (e.g. graphene), topological insulators and the physics of driven systems. Inelastic effects deriving from electron-phonon and electron-photon interactions (e. g. quantum pumping, Floquet topological states) occupy a central stage in his contributions. He has more than 60 publications in international journals and a book published by Cambridge University Press. These works have collected more than 3800 citations with h-index 30. He has delivered more than 40 invited/plenary talks at international conferences/workshops and meetings and serves as referee for numerous journals and funding institutions including the European Research Council, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France) and the National Science Foundation (US). He has been listed as outstanding referee of the American Physical Society and since 2022 serves as an Editorial Board member of Physical Review Letters (Condensed Matter Physics).
Main scientific achievements and appraisal of our research
My works combine insights in condensed matter concepts, technology driven goals and sheer curiosity. My main scientific achievements include:
- Prediction of anomalous localization in non-Hermitian systems [V. M. Martinez-Alvarez et al., Physical Review B 97, 121401(R) (2018)], whereby a pristine non-Hermitian lattice may become devoid of extended states. This effect was called later on non-Hermitian skin effect by other authors and has been verified in experiments involving transcending condensed matter including mechanical systems, a quantum walk with photons, topoelectrical circuits and also in active matter (click for more information).This article together with another one in the same line [V. M. Martinez-Alvarez et al., Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics 227, 1295 (2018)] are placed among the top 1 per cent of the Physics literature according to Web of Science. The first one has also been listed as the fourth (out of 10.127) most cited items of Physical Review B (source: InCites Journal Citation Reports released in 2021).
- Elucidating laser-induced chiral edge states in graphene [Perez-Piskunow et al. Physical Review B 89, 121401(R) (2014); Usaj et al. Physical Review B 90, 115423 (2014)] as well as their Hall response [Foa Torres et al. Physical Review Letters 113, 266801 (2014)]. The Hall response of laser-illuminated graphene has been experimentally observed in McIver et al. Nature Physics 16, 38-41 (2020).Two of these papers made half of the core highly cited papers in an emerging research front reported by Thomson Reuters (Periodically driven systems, 2017) and are within the top 1 percent of the Physics literature published around the same time.
- Prediction of tunable laser-induced bandgaps in graphene using mid-infrared lasers [Calvo et al. Applied Physics Letters 98, 232103 (2011)]. The same physics was later observed at the surface of a topological insulator [Wang et al. Science 342, 453 (2013)].
- Prediction of a Peierls-like mechanism in carbon nanotubes at high bias. [Foa Torres and Roche, Physical Review Letters 97, 076804 (2006)]. Still without experimental confirmation.
- Elucidating the role of time-dependent fields in quantum charge pumping (the generation of a current at zero bias) with a single time-dependent gate voltage [Foa Torres, Physical Review B 72, 245339 (2005)]. Experiments on single-parameter pumps came later in 2008 [PRB 77, 153301 (2008)] holding great promise either in metrology or for new devices operating at the quantum limit.
- A proposal for the electrical generation of coherent ultrasound by electrical means in semiconductors, i.e. a phonon laser [Foa Torres et al. Physical Review B 64, 193304 (2001); Camps et al. Physical Review B 64, 125311 (2001)]. This kind of devices was first demonstrated experimentally almost a decade later (see also http://physics.aps.org/articles/v3/16).
The first edition of the book “Introduction to Graphene-Based Nanomaterials” has been reviewed and positively appraised by Riichiro Saito (Tohoku University) and Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT, Kavli Prize winner 2012).
Awards and honors
- Simons' Associate of the Condensed Matter section of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy (2020-2025).
- Best Teacher Award (Mejor Docente), Universidad de Chile, 2020-2021.
- Visiting Professor of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2019).
- ICTP Prize 2018.
- Outstanding Referee of the American Physical Society (2018).
- Joven Sobresaliente del año 2011, given by Córdoba’s Stock Exchange (2011).
- Humboldt Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2008-2009).
Honorary service to the community
- Member of the Editorial Board of Physical Review Letters, Divisional Assistant Editor (Condensed Matter Physics), June 2022- May 2025.
- Editorial Fellow (Physics) at SciPost, a community driven infrastructure for scientific publishing (March 2020-present).
- Member of the editorial board of Journal of Physics Materials (2020 to present).
- Member of the International Scientific Committee of the Graphene Conference series (2019-2022).
- Section Editor of the LT27: Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics
(Quantum Transport Section), published in Journal of Physics Conference Series, volume 568, 2014 (ca.
70 submissions handled in the quantum transport section).
- Member of the Scientific Committee of the "Meeting on Surfaces and Nanostructured Materials", 2013-2015. Organizer of the 2012 edition.
- Coordinator of the Condensed Matter Division of the Argentine Physical Society, 2010-2011, elected by the vote of its members.
May 2016 - present: Associate Professor at the University of Chile (Department of Physics, FCFM).
January 2020 - present: Simons Associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP, Trieste, Italy), Condensed Matter Section.
January 2015 - December 2016 [on leave 01-12/2016] : CONICET Research Scientist (Investigador Independiente at Argentina’s National Council for Science and Technology): Leader of a team of young scientists with a focus on the electronic and optoelectronic properties of nanomaterials and nanodevices, mainly graphene and topological insulators.
October 2015-December 2016 [on leave 01-12/2016]: Associate Professor at the National University of Córdoba (UNC, Argentina), School of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (FaMAF): Teaching duties at graduate and undergraduate level in Physics and Chemistry.
January 2011- December 2016: Associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP, Trieste, Italy): Research at ICTP’s Condensed Matter Section.
October 2009 - December 2014: Adjoint Researcher at CONICET (Investigador Adjunto at Argentina’s National Council for Science and Technology, tenured position): Leader of a team of young scientists with a focus on the electronic and optoelectronic properties of nanomaterials and nanodevices, mainly graphene and topological insulators.
October 2009-October 2015: Adjoint Professor at the National University of Córdoba (UNC, Argentina), School of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (FaMAF): Teaching duties at graduate and undergraduate level in Physics and Chemistry.
March 2008 - September 2009: Awarded as a Humboldt Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation “in recognition to previous research work”, Chair for Materials Science and Nanotechnology, Dresden University of Technology (Dresden, Germany).
October 2007 - February 2008: Research Associate at the Chair for Materials Science and Nanotechnology, Dresden University of Technology (Dresden, Germany). Position founded by the EU Project Cardeq (Carbon-nanotube devices at the quantum limit).
October 2005 - September 2007: Postdoc at the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique, CEA-Grenoble, Stephan’s Roche group (Grenoble, France). Hired within the program Recherche Technologique de Base (RTB Post-CMOS moléculaire 200mm) to bridge basic science with technology.
September 2004 - September 2005: Postdoctoral fellow at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Condensed Matter Section, Trieste, Italy.
August 2004: PhD in Physics, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. PhD Thesis: "On the effects of the many-body interactions and decoherence in the conductance of nano-devices" (abstract). Advisor: Prof. Dr. Horacio M. Pastawski
December 1999: Licenciado en Física, National University of Córdoba (UNC), Argentina. Global point average: 9.17 (scale 1 to 10). Master’s thesis: “Resonances in Fock Space: Optimization of a Tunnel Device for Ultrasound generation (SASER).”