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Physics of quantum and functional materials

ARRS programme P1-0125 (C) – Physics of quantum and functional materials
Head: dr. Denis Arčon

Although quantum effects have been exploited in a wide range of electronic devices for a long time, the past decade has seen a dramatic improvement in our understanding of how subtle quantum effects control macroscopic behaviour of a whole range of materials with different functionalities. The research programme “P1-0125: Physics of quantum and functional materials” will investigate fundamental physical phenomena in such materials and explore the possibility of emerging applications. The research programme brings together a broad and complementary expertise of a large group of condensed-matter physicists with a prominent track-record in the field proved by numerous highly-cited publications in high-profile international journals (e.g., Science and Nature series), by various national and international awards, plenary and invited talks at the most prestigious international conferences, as well as by international patents. The focus of the research programme will be around two strongly interlinked directions: materials and related technologies.

Our main aim will be to deepen the understanding of
(i) the quantum entanglement phenomena in materials,
(ii) the topological properties and their effect on the ordered states,
(iii) the new quasiparticles predicted in low-dimensional quantum materials,
(iv) the role of defects in stabilizing the quantum order,
(v) the role of electron correlations in fuelling the competition between various types of quantum order, and
(vi) the coupling of different degrees of freedom in order to take advantage of the (multi)functional behaviour, such as found in multiferroics and electrocalorics.

These phenomena will be investigated
(i) in carefully selected families of quantum materials exhibiting unconventional superconductivity, quantum magnetism or exotic quantum spin-liquid ground states,
(ii) in a range of topological materials, such as those with magnetic skyrmions,
(iii) in multicaloric and multiferroic materials, and
(iv) in high-entropy alloys.

The research group will use a broad arsenal of experimental techniques available at the home institution, such as the magnetic resonance and dielectric spectroscopy, thermal and magnetic property measurements, as well as other techniques available at various large-scale user facilities, such as the neutron scattering and the muon spectroscopy. Novel techniques will also be developed to address quantum and functional phenomena over the broad energy, length and time scales. Our experimental findings will not only be compared to the paradigmatic theoretical models, but will also stimulate the research of several potential applications. In particular, we will develop a novel highly sensitive optical magnetometer method challenging the current limitations in sensitivity, we will propose new methods for quantum computing using magnetic resonance techniques, and we will explore novel functionalised materials for 3D printing beyond the current state-of-the-art.