Humboldt fellowship for Kathryn Arpino

August 16, 2018

The Alexander von Humboldt foundation has selected Kathryn Arpino for a Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Kate earned her PhD in Chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA for experimental research on quantum materials in Prof. Tyrel McQueen’s group. Kate currently works on topological materials as a postdoc with Prof. Claudia Felser at the Max Planck. Arpino’s research aims to explore and understand structure-property relationships in materials with collective electronic phenomena. With this award, she plans to experimentally investigate the effects of s2 lone-pair stereochemistry on topology and superconductivity.

Structure-property relationships, or how the structure of a material underlies and affects its properties, are at the heart of solid-state chemistry and condensed matter physics; moreover, these relationships can be implemented to intentionally design functional advanced materials for myriad practical applications. One variable structural feature is the stereochemical activity of s2 lone pair: whether these electrons are spherically distributed (“stereochemically inactive”) or displaced (“stereochemically active”) due to contribution of other orbitals or bands. While lone-pair solid-state materials have been extensively studied for ferroelectrics and optical materials, how lone-pair stereochemistry affects superconductivity and topology has not been explicitly pursued. The associations of lone-pair stereochemistry with orbital/band contribution, structural symmetries, and effect on electron density suggest that lone-pair stereochemistry may indeed relevantly affect topological and superconducting properties. Kate will investigate these relationships by modulating stereochemistry via pressure and isovalent chemical substitution and observing the results on the physical properties.



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