The Quantum Materials program at SIMES addresses outstanding questions in the field of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (CMMP) related to the collective behavior of strongly correlated and magnetic materials. Largely stimulated by the discoveries of new forms of order and rich phenomena in correlated materials, these questions are at the heart of the Basic Energy Science grand challenge to understand the emergence of collective phenomena.

Emergence: Strange Behavior

The heart of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (CMMP) is the endeavor to understand how complex and unexpected phenomena emerge when large numbers of constituents, usually electrons, interact with each other. In essence, the challenge is to understand the organizing principles that lead to complex collective behavior, and to explore the range of applicability of these ideas.

Quantum materials — that is, materials for which the interactions between the constituent particles cannot be treated in a semi-classical manner — provide a wealth of especially challenging problems in this regard. Examples include:

  • Charge ordering in complex oxides resulting from electron correlations
  • The interplay between charge, spin and orbital degrees of freedom in determining novel ordered states
  • The origin and behavior of quantum condensates, including spin and charge density waves, and unconventional superconductivity
  • Non-Fermi liquid behavior
  • Bad metallicity
  • The behavior of vortex matter
  • Spin currents and magnetization dynamics
  • Quantum spin Hall effect
  • Electron organization in low density semiconductors

Addressing questions in these and other related areas ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of the behavior of electrons in solids. Harnessing these effects has the potential to transform the next generation of electronic materials.

Collectively, we bring a range of techniques to bear on these problems, from the search for new materials that challenge or extend the current understanding, through advanced measurements that reveal in detail the behavior of electrons and excitations in these systems, to theoretical investigations that seek to explain current observations and suggest new directions.