First US citizen to rank in the the World Physics Olympiad in Zurich

Abijith Krishnan presenting his research at conference.

Abijith Krishnan just won a Gold Medal at the 2016 International Physics Olympiad (IPhO 2016) held July 11-17 at the University of Zurich. Abi ranked 16th worldwide and is the first ranked US citizen in the Olympiad. Krishnan is a graduating senior at the Basis High School Scottsdale, and has been conducting materials physics research at Arizona State University in the ASU SiO2 CIMD lab under the supervision of physics professors, Nicole Herbots and Robert Culbertson, since August 2015.

“Abi is extremely gifted, incredibly hardworking, and delightfully humble," Herbots said. "He demonstrates focus, creativity, and tenacity in the lab.”

Krishnan acknowledges that his success is shared with many of his peers and professors.

He combined his interests in physics, mathematics, computer science and experimental science to conduct his senior thesis with Herbots using the results from his research at ASU. Herbots and Krishnan chose to call Krishnan's model a Surface Energy-Defect Density model, or SEDD model for short. By working with the research team at ASU, Krishnan collected surface energy measurements by Three Liquids Contact Angle Analysis on very smooth surfaces and compared them the number of microscopic surface defects at the surface. Krishnan wrote a computational analysis code to carefully count point defects and extended defects from the large area/high resolution TMAFM micrographs these defect densities were measured by Shawn Whaley and his works.

Additionally, Krishnan is a co-author on three papers the ASU SiO2 CIMD lab research group of Herbots and Culbertson will present at the 63rd International American Vacuum Society Meeting in November 2016, and his research will also be featured at an invited talk at the 28th International Conference on Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry (CAARI 2016) in October 2016. He is headed to Harvard University this fall.

Krishnan has entered the 2016 Google Science Fair with two of his schoolmates from Basis HS, Nithin Kannan and Yash Pershad, featuring his research at ASU. He is presently writing a journal article on his senior thesis project with Yash Pershad and Herbots, to conclude his research at ASU.