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Physical Sciences and Engineering

Superconductivity and Magnetism

The Superconductivity and Magnetism Group focuses on three research areas: novel phenomena and dynamics arising from superconductivity, synthesis of thin films and interfaces, and out-of-equilibrium dynamics and self-assembly of bio-inspired materials.

The first research area on Superconductivity & Magnetism explores novel physical phenomena associated with superconductivity, magnetism, and their interactions; determines the origins of these occurrences; and designs innovative functionalities for superconductivity. The broad range of physical effects at the intersection of superconductivity and magnetism in bulk crystals, thin films and artificial hybrid heterostructures constitutes a rich platform to explore, discover and control new behaviors. The boundaries between superconductivity and magnetism are fluid, with thematically interconnected phenomena in magnetic superconductors, vortex matter, and superconducting/ferromagnetic hybrid heterostructures. Current research is focused on exploring (i) the role of nematicity and the evolution of the superconducting order parameters in doped topological insulators such as Bi2Se3, (ii) the extremely large magnetoresistance and negative magnetoresistance in Weyl and Dirac semimetals and (iii) the interaction of chiral magnetism and superconductivity in the recently highest Tc” magnetic superconductors. Furthermore, along use-inspired research themes, the focused areas include (i) the derivation of hybrid ferromagnetic/superconducting structures and artificial Josephson junction arrays to elicit new vortex matter and topological behavior, (ii) the exploitation of single magnon spin dynamics in the design of hybrid resonators for quantum information processes, and (iii) science advances for a compact terahertz-on-a-chip paradigm.

The second research area on Digital Synthesis investigates thin films and their interfaces, which provide a unique stage for unveiling new fundamental phenomena. The research is focused on creating, controlling and manipulating novel correlated and topological states that emerge in model thin films and interfaces. The explored systems are unique in that their most interesting aspects occur at surfaces or interfaces. The program uses state-of-the-art synthesis techniques, including unique in-situ capabilities that elucidate the growth of films and interfaces, as well as a broad range of characterization tools to determine the structural, transport and magnetic properties of these materials.  The focused research activities include investigation of (i) a novel interfacial superconductor at the (111) interface of KTaO3, (ii) a new class of superconductors in the nickelates, (iii) the spin Seebeck effect to probe the magnetic structure and understand the nature of excitations in novel quantum magnets and (iv) the topological properties of non-magnetic topological semimetals and insulators. Our synthesis and characterization capabilities, integrated within a single effort, enable us to explore new emerging areas efficiently and to adapt and refine our synthesis techniques to improve the quality of our samples. We seek to create model materials systems where we can develop meaningful insights, not only about intrinsic properties but also about the role of imperfections. We engage with a broad range of theorists and experimentalists, both within Argonne and worldwide, that expand the scope of our research and develop new insights.

The third research area on Dynamics of Active Self-Assembled Materials is focused on the fundamental aspects of out-of-equilibrium dynamics and self-assembly of bio-inspired materials for emerging energy applications. It paves the way for the discovery of tailored self-assembled materials and structures that can self-heal and regulate porosity, strength, viscosity or transport properties. The program synergistically combines experiment, theory, and simulations. Our long-term goals are to develop a fundamental understanding and control of out-of-equilibrium self-assembly in synthetic and bio-inspired systems as they relate to the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences missions in Biomolecular Materials and Mesoscale Science. Current research focuses on developing new approaches to synthesis and discovery of novel self-assembled bio-inspired materials, such as functional tunable structures and transport based on actively spinning units energized by electric or magnetic fields, as well as novel active nematic materials formed by active swimmers in anisotropic fluids (liquid crystals). This program is highly interdisciplinary and unique, as it correlates the dynamics of both motile and driven active agents to unveil the critical fundamental rules that govern the emergence of self-assembly and organization out of equilibrium.