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Physical Sciences and Engineering

Structural Signatures of Hidden Order in Spin-orbit Coupled Systems

Argonne’s innovative tools combine machine learning with advanced spectral analysis to elucidate structure in quantum materials.

Quantum materials are solids whose strongly interacting electrons display novel properties that could impact technological fields as diverse as quantum computing, smart sensors and actuators, and low-power electronics. In many quantum materials, the relativistic interactions that couple the electrons’ spins to their orbital momenta are particularly strong, and this spin-orbit coupling has been predicted to generate exotic forms of cooperative electron ordering that have not been seen before. The scientific goal is to reveal this hidden order in quantum materials and thereby elucidate the underlying interactions that would allow them to be harnessed in future applications.

By combining high-energy X-ray scattering, machine learning, and spectral analysis to address the problem of hidden order, this project have developed a suite of advanced computational tools that impact future investigations of crystalline materials whose properties depend on structural correlations that are short-ranged or too weak to be measurable by conventional diffraction.