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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P024564/1
Title: Designer Quantum Materials - Thermodynamics and Transport
Principal Investigator: Rost, Dr A W
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Max Planck Institutes (Grouped) Razorbill Instruments
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 October 2017 Ends: 30 September 2022 Value (£): 1,220,782
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Magnetism/Magnetic Phenomena
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Feb 2017 EPSRC Physical Sciences - Fellowship Interview February 2017 Announced
24 Jan 2017 EPSRC Physical Sciences - January 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Designer thin film heterostructures of strongly correlated electron systems are an exciting playground for condensed matter physics, not only for the opportunities that they provide for fundamental research but also for the potential technological impact they could have. They are one of the most promising avenues to develop advanced materials technology that allows one to design and assemble materials of near-arbitrary electronic, magnetic and structural properties. Long term success could mean the integration of such properties as superconductivity (allowing power transmission without loss), spin currents (transporting information without charge) or thermoelectricity (efficiently converting heat into electricity).

This search for new, multifunctional capabilities is a major ambition of research into such artificial 'designer' heterostructures of transition metal oxides, in which structural, magnetic and electric properties are strongly linked, resulting in multifunctional capabilities. In recent years we have become adept at depositing such complex materials with atomic precision layer by layer. This has led to a range of unexpected discoveries rooted in the fact that such materials go well beyond the paradigm of standard semiconductor physics with their electrons not behaving independently but instead strongly interacting. The quantum mechanical correlations driving the unusual properties of the bulk also lead to the emergence of new physics at both interfaces and in heterostructures that can now be tuned through composition control on atomic lengthscales. Famous examples are the emergence of a superconducting metal at the interface of two insulators and the giant magnetoresistance effect discovered a quarter of a century ago and now at the heart of almost every hard drive.

Current research in transition metal oxide heterostructures therefore combines discovery and the quest for understanding. My proposal is situated at this frontier. I am planning to investigate new materials that display phenomena that are impossible or very difficult to stabilize in bulk material. These include unconventional superconductivity, the effect of strong correlations on topological insulators and spin liquids/spin ice in low dimensions.

A core role in this research program is played by the creation of a new bespoke experimental platform tailored to thin film materials. In current thin film research the standard measurement tool is electric conductivity, with other highly specialized techniques playing a more restricted role due to current technical constraints. Measuring other key quantities relating experiment to theory, such as magnetic properties or the capability of storing and releasing heat is much more challenging. The reason is that typical designer heterostructures have a thickness a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Their thermodynamic signatures are vanishingly small compared to everyday experience and require new, sensitive tools for their measurement. I will use state-of-the-art thin film fabrication tools and ultra-thin membranes to create such bespoke tools to overcome this challenge.

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Organisation Website: http://www.st-and.ac.uk