Physics of Quantum Materials (PQM)

Scientific summary

The goal of the PQM department is to perform multi-faceted research into the collective states formed by strongly interacting electron fluids. Our interests include not just low temperature ordered states but the ‘breeding grounds’ of such states, notably the strongly fluctuating environment close to quantum critical points. Since material design and control of disorder are vital to progress in the field, we place strong emphasis on the in-house preparation of poly- and single-crystalline samples of a number of different kinds of materials, notably intermetallic compounds and selected oxides. Through collaboration with our chemistry colleagues, we have access to special facilities that allow us to work with highly toxic elements from beryllium to uranium, and hence access a broad range of physics.

We complement our material growth effort with one of the world’s most modern and extensive suites of measurement apparatus. We have specialized low temperature cryostats giving us the capability of studying a wide range of electrical transport and thermodynamic properties. This expertise is complemented by research groups specializing in a number of modern spectroscopic techniques, and we are in the process of establishing a major new effort in bringing strongly correlated electron systems into the mesoscopic regime. Our in-house work is mainly experimental, but we collaborate actively with theory colleagues in our institute, at the next-door Max Planck Institute for Complex Systems and in the Physics department of the Technical University of Dresden. Our approach is outward-facing, and we work closely with theoretical and experimental groups in partner institutions across the world.

Departmental organisation

The department's work is organised around a number of groups, each led by a senior scientist. Some of the groups also include permanent staff scientists and research engineers and technicians. Among the non-permanent staff, Institute Research Fellows are senior post-doctoral scientists beginning to supervise research students and build sub-groups in their own name, while Post-Doctoral Research Scientists are performing research work soon after completing their doctorates. The scientific staff are completed by graduate students working towards their doctorates, research students working towards other qualifications such as masters degrees and undergraduate interns gaining research experience.

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