St. Bonaventure University


Pientka, James M.


School of Arts and Sciences

Professor, Physics
Department Chair
Member, Environmental Studies Council
Office phone: (716) 375-2007
Send an email
De La Roche 120-B
  • PHSC 106. Stars and Stellar Systems
  • PHSC 113L. Astronomy Laboratory
  • PHSC 115. Alternative Energy Sources
  • PHYS 103. General Physics I
  • PHYL 103. General Physics Laboratory I 
  • PHYS 104. General Physics II    
  • PHYL 104. General Physics Laboratory II  
  • PHYS 201. Theoretical Mechanics 
  • PHYS 203. Modern Physics and Quantum Mechanics 
  • PHYS 301. Electricity and Magnetism I 
  • PHYS 302. Electricity and Magnetism II 
  • PHYS 304. Thermodynamics 
  • PHYS 309. Experimental Physics I 
  • PHYS 312. Internship in Applied Physics 
  • PHYS 406. Introductory Quantum Mechanics 
  • PHYS 451. Applied Problems in Computational Physics
  • ENGR 220. Introduction to MATLAB
  • Ph.D., University of Buffalo, 2015
  • B.S., Canisius College, 2007
  • 2014–2019, Assistant Professor of Physics, St. Bonaventure University.
  • 2014, Adjunct Professor of Physics, Erie Community College.
  • 2011–2014, Adjunct Professor of Physics, Canisius College.
  • 2009, Instructor of Physics, University at Buffalo.
  • 2010–2014, Research Assistant, University at Buffalo.
  • 2008–2010, Teaching Assistant, University at Buffalo.

Publications in Refereed Journals

  • A. Naja, M.Sharma, S. Delikanli, A. Bhattacharya, J R. Murphy, J. Pientka, A. Sharma, A. P. Quinn, O. Erdem, S. Kattel, Y. Kelestemur, M. V. Kovalenko, W. D. Rice, H. V. Demir, A. Petrou, Light-Induced Paramagnetism in Colloidal Ag+ Doped CdSe Nanoplatelets, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2021, 12, 2892-2899.
  • A. Naja, S. Tarasek, S. Delikanli, P. Zhang, T. Noden, S. Shendre, M. Sharma, A. Bhattacharya, N. Taghipour, J. Pientka, H. V. Demir, A. Petrou, T. Thomay, CdSe/CdMnS Nanoplatelets with Bilayer Core and Magnetically Doped Shell Exhibit Switchable Excitonic Circular Polarization: Implications for Lasers and Light-Emitting Diodes. ACS Appl. Nano Mater. (4),3151 (2020)
  • B. Barman, J. M. Pientka, J.R. Murphy, A.N. Cartwright, W.C. Chou, W.C. Fan, R. Oszwa ldowski, A. Petrou, Circular Polarization Dynamics during Magnetic Polaron Formation in Type-II Magnetic Quantum Dots. J. Phys. Chem. C. 124, 12766-12773 (2020)
  • P. Zhang, T. Norden, J. M. Pientka, R. Oszwa ldowski, A. Naja, B. Barman, Y. Tsai, W. C.Fan, W- C. Chou, J. E. Han, I.  Zuti c, B. D. McCombe, and A. Petrou, Optical control of carrier wavefunction in magnetic quantum dots. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2019 123 (42), 25934-25940.
  • D. Rederth, Oszwałdowski, A. Petukhov, and J. M. Pientka. Multiband Electronic Structure of Magnetic Quantum Dots: Numerical Studies. Acta Physica Polonica A 113(3), 343 (2018).
  • B. Barman, R. Oszwałdowski, L. Schweidenback, A. H. Russ, J. M. Pientka, Y. Tsai, W-C. Chou,W. C. Fan, J. R. Murphy, A. N. Cartwright, I. R. Sellers, A. G. Petukhov, I. Zutic, B. D. McCombe, and A. Petrou. Time-resolved magnetophotoluminescence studies of magnetic polaron dynamics in type-II quantum dots. Phys. Rev. B 92 (3), 035430 (2015).
  • J. M. Pientka, R. Oszwałdowski, A. G. Petukhov, J. E. Han, and I. Zutic. Magnetic ordering in quantum dots: Open versus closed shells. Phys. Rev. B 92 (15), 155402 (2015). 
  • B. Barman, Y. Tsai, T. Scrace, J. R. Murphy, A. N. Cartwright, J. M. Pientka, I. Zutic, B. D. McCombe, A. Petrou, I. R. Sellers, R. Oszwałdowski, A. G. Petukhov, W. C. Fan, W-C. Chou, and C.S. Yang. Conventional vs. Unconventional Magnetic Polarons: ZnMnTe/ZnSe and ZnTe/ZnMnSe Quantum Dots. Proc. SPIE, Vol. 9167, 91670L (2014).
  • J. M. Pientka, R. Oszwałdowski, A. G. Petukhov J. E. Han and I. Zutic. Reentrant Formation of Magnetic Polarons in Quantum Dots. Phys. Rev. B 86 (16), 161403(R) (2012). 
  • S. Fujita, J. M. Pientka, and A. Suziki. On van Hove Singularities in Pure Cubic Crystals. Mod. Phys. Lett. B 26 (15), 1250091 (2012). 

Other Publications

  • Co-author the solution manual for S. Fujita and S. Godoy, Mathematical Physics. Wiley-VCH, 2010. 


  • Kennan Endowment Grant: "Development of Interdisciplinary Major – Material Science." 2019.


  • Frank B. Silverstro Fellowship, 2010-2014.
  • University at Buffalo (North) Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, 2009.
  • V.A. Ruszkiewicz Memorial Prize for High Distinction in Physics, 2007.

Referee for Peer-reviewed Journals

  • Physical Review B
  • Physica Status Solidi B: Basic Solid State Physics

Science tries to make sense of the world. An understanding of natural phenomena leads to appreciation for the richness of nature. By exploring the natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology and geology the students gain insight on the delicate balance between the physical world and the life that appears on it. By studying chemistry and physics, students appreciate the natural laws that govern the world.

As a science educator, I aspire to help my students to be literate in physics. For example, I always try to make them tackle a physics problem and understand the terminology and the concepts of what is being asked in a problem. The next step is to put the problem in the language of mathematics and apply relevant physical laws to solve it. In addition to creating literate and problem-solving individuals, I try to inspire my students to become lifelong learners. It is my hope that they develop a curiosity about their world and the wish to further their understanding by continuing their studies in science.

Students learn best in an environment that they can feel comfortable in. As an educator, I try my best to provide a setting that promotes learning for the students. An effective way to learn physics is to observe the phenomena that one is studying. This is done through demonstrations and in-classroom drawings so that the students are able to visualize the object of their study. Another effective approach when it comes to teaching science is problem-based learning. I do this by presenting a problem or phenomenon to the class, discuss the theory that explains it and then solve related problems. In recitations, I have the students work in groups to solve problems related to the topic that is currently studied. Collectively, we go over the assigned problems.

As an educator, I feel that learning should be fun and therefore I strive to make learning physics a pleasant experience. I do my best to make learning physics stimulating by organizing lessons that are interactive. Students will not sit back and listen to the lectures, but they have an active role through classroom discussions and performing in class experiments.

Finally, I design my teaching so that the students can see a clear connection between what they learn in class and the problems of everyday life such as energy, pollution and climate change to name a few.


My current research primarily focuses on computational and theoretical studies of electronic, magneto-optic, and thermodynamic properties of dilute magnetic semiconductors.

Dilute magnetic semiconductors are promising materials for spintronic devices. Spintronics, or spin electronics, involves exploiting the charge as well as the spin degrees of freedom of the electrons in semiconductor devices to enhance their performance. All current semiconductors devices use only the charge of the electrons as a basis of their operation. Non-magnetic semiconductors such as silicon use the charge for data processing while magnetic materials such as iron oxides use the spin degrees of freedom for storing information. Dilute magnetic semiconductors combine semiconductor and magnetic properties in one system and thus can simultaneously perform processing and memory storage on the same chip. In a dilute magnetic semiconductor, a small concentration, typically less than 10 percent, of magnetic atoms such as Mn are included in the crystal.

Although, many of the properties of dilute magnetic semiconductors are well understood, there is much to be explored at the nanoscale, more specifically in quantum dots, which are nanocrystals with typical dimensions of a few nanometers. Recent experiments in magnetic quantum dots have demonstrated several technologically useful phenomena such as long spin memory, giant magneto-resistance and robust magnetic ordering that can have direct application in devices.

  • Twin Tiers Regional Science Fair Director: fall 2016–spring 2021.
  • Adviser for the ORION Astronomy Club (academic club): spring 2015–present.
  • Adviser for the Smash Bros. Club (recreational club): fall 2017–spring 2020.