The ultimate aim of our research is to attain a better understanding of complex materials, particularly those that are important to clean energy technologies.
We are currently investigating the relationship between magnetism and superconductivity, new mechanisms for enhancing thermoelectric performance, the ability to modify properties using an electric or magnetic field, complex ferromagnetic materials including permanent magnets, and the role of magnetic excitations in heat transport.
To study complex materials our group has the ability to prepare many different types of inorganic materials, often as a single crystal. Single crystals offer the best chance for understanding the relationship between structure and physical properties in a new material. For instance, many physical properties, such as electrical conductivity, depend on the orientation of the crystal. Also, studying single crystals often minimizes the influence of extrinsic effects that mask the fundamental behavior of the material.
Our group can measure many of the basic thermal, structural, electrical, and magnetic properties of a new material over a wide range of temperatures including temperatures as low as 1.9 K. Measurements made at low temperatures often provide a much clearer picture of the behavior of a complex material. Our group routinely works closely with theoretical physicists who provide insight into how to interpret experimental data from a new material. We also frequently make use of many of the unique capabilities at ORNL including the neutron scattering and electron microscopy facilities.