Springer Thesis Prize for Maja Bachmann

1. September 2020

We are delighted to announce Maja Bachmann’s excellent PhD thesis research has been recognized by the award of a Springer Thesis Prize.  The award consists of a cash prize and, more importantly, the publication of her thesis as a book by Springer Nature:  https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-030-51362-7.pdf .

In her outstanding doctoral research, Maja developed a series of new experimental protocols for fabricating microstructured experiments based on complex quantum materials, and then used her devices to uncover important new physics. In the delafossite layered oxide metal PdCoO2 she discovered an effect in which ballistic electrons travel along preferred directions over astonishingly long distances. In complementary work on the heavy fermion superconductor CeIrIn5, she proved, in collaboration with the group of Katja Nowack from Cornell University, that strange resistive signals of superconductivity above the thermodynamic transition temperature were due to strain. In her microstructures, she showed that tailored strain fields can generate strongly anisotropic superconducting responses, and her work implies that puzzling observations on bulk single crystals, an unsolved problem of twenty years’ standing, were due to surface strains. Both pieces of work, on PdCoO2 and CeIrIn5, were founded on her virtuoso experimental designs, and both are of interest for applied as well as fundamental physics.

Her supervisors Prof. Philip Moll and Prof. Andy Mackenzie were particularly impressed by the way she combined ingenuity with scientific enthusiasm.  Faced with a new problem, she would approach it from many different angles simultaneously, fabricating large numbers of microstructures designed to test her ideas, and working incredibly hard to build up a comprehensive set of experimental information.  All this was done in a spirit of joy and adventure that was inspirational to all around her.  One can never forget that science is fun if one is working with Maja!

We offer our warm congratulations to Maja for this timely recognition of her outstanding achievements, and our best wishes to her in her new position as a Geballe Laboratory of Advanced Materials Fellow and Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc Mobility Fellow at Stanford University.

Andy Mackenzie / APM

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