Minerva REALM group

July 10, 2019

It is well-known, that unconventional solid-state materials not only contribute to our fundamental understanding of physical and chemical principles, but also drive our technological advances. Further progress is often impeded by the fact that many fundamental questions regarding underlying mechanisms of magnetism and superconductivity remain unanswered. Theoretical efforts have certainly contributed to the overall advancement of the field. However, significant breakthroughs are often inspired by experimental discoveries of new strongly correlated systems.

Scanning electron microscopy images of novel intermetallic compounds, grown by the various synthesis techniques. Design and characterization of similar unconventional materials, along with the improvement of their quality, will be the main focus of the REALM group.

In particular, the majority of solid-state materials, which show exotic properties – such as unconventional superconductivity and complex magnetic orders – include lanthanide and actinide elements. Unfortunately, when it comes to the discovery of such materials, it is nearly impossible to predict their physical properties or even evaluate their synthesis feasibility using computational means. To address this challenge, the first research direction of the Research of Exotic Actinide and Lanthanide Materials (REALM) group is the design of new solid-state compounds. The REALM group will utilize the expertise of three fields – inorganic chemistry, material science, and solid-state physics. By using empirical knowledge, stemming from a meticulous analysis of various actinide- and lanthanide-based materials, we plan to identify trends that result in intriguing chemical and physical properties.

The second effort of the REALM group is to advance the quality of the existing systems. Unfortunately, the majority of known crystalline compounds are full of imperfections on the micro-scale as well as at the atomic level – for example strain, dislocations, impurities, and stoichiometric deviations. Very frequently, intrinsic properties of a given materials are masked by such imperfections, resulting in conflicting reports and inconsistent characterization, stalling scientific progress. This is particularly important for actinide- and lanthanide-based strongly correlated systems, as their ground states are typically very fragile with respect to imperfections and impurities. The REALM group will use cutting-edge experimental techniques such as high-temperature and high-pressure synthesis, as well as micro-scale structuring in order to obtain and study previously unattainable compounds and materials of exceptional purity.

The work of the REALM group will provide deeper insights into the fundamental origin of magnetism and superconductivity, pushing us one step closer to unlocking their full application potential.

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