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  • richardmitnick 9:23 pm on April 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Quantum Materials, , , , Theory Institute for Materials and Energy Spectroscopies (TIMES), ,   

    From SLAC: “New SLAC Theory Institute Aims to Speed Research on Exotic Materials at Light Sources” 

    SLAC Lab

    April 11, 2017
    Glennda Chui

    A new institute at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is using the power of theory to search for new types of materials that could revolutionize society – by making it possible, for instance, to transmit electricity over power lines with no loss.

    The Theory Institute for Materials and Energy Spectroscopies (TIMES) focuses on improving experimental techniques and speeding the pace of discovery at West Coast X-ray facilities operated by SLAC and by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, its DOE sister lab across the bay.

    But the institute aims to have a much broader impact on studies aimed at developing new materials for energy and other technological applications by making the tools it develops available to scientists around the world.

    TIMES opened in August 2016 as part of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES), a DOE-funded institute operated jointly with Stanford.

    Materials that Surprise

    “We’re interested in materials with remarkable properties that seem to emerge out of nowhere when you arrange them in particular ways or squeeze them down into a single, two-dimensional layer,” says Thomas Devereaux, a SLAC professor of photon science who directs both TIMES and SIMES.

    This general class of materials is known as “quantum materials.” Some of the best-known examples are high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity with no loss; topological insulators, which conduct electricity only along their surfaces; and graphene, a form of pure carbon whose superior strength, electrical conductivity and other surprising qualities derive from the fact that it’s just one layer of atoms thick.

    In another research focus, Devereaux says, “We want to see what happens when you push materials far beyond their resting state – out of equilibrium, is the way we put it – by exciting them in various ways with pulses of X-ray light at facilities known as light sources.

    “This tells you how materials will behave under realistic operating conditions, for instance in a lightweight airplane or a new type of battery. Understanding and controlling out-of-equilibrium behavior and learning how novel properties emerge in complex materials are two of the scientific grand challenges in our field, and light sources are ideal places to do this work.”

    Joining Forces With Light Sources

    A key part of the institute’s work is to use theory and computation to improve experimental techniques – especially X-ray spectroscopy, which probes the chemical composition and electronic structure of materials – in order to make research at light sources more productive.

    “We are in a golden age of X-ray spectroscopy, in which many billions of dollars have been invested worldwide to develop new X-ray and neutron sources that allow us to study very small details and very fast processes in materials,” Devereaux says. “In fact, we are on the threshold of being able to control matter at a much deeper level than ever possible before.

    “But while X-ray spectroscopy has a long history of collaboration between experimentalists and theorists, there has not been a companion theory institute anywhere. TIMES fills this gap. It aims to solidify collaboration and development of new methods and tools for theory relevant to this new landscape.”

    Devereaux, a theorist who uses computation to study quantum materials, came to SLAC 10 years ago from the University of Waterloo in Canada to work more closely with researchers at three light sources – SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the world’s first X-ray free-electron laser, which at the time was under construction at SLAC. Opened for research in 2009, LCLS gives scientists access to pulses a billion times brighter than any available before and that arrive up to 120 times per second, opening whole new avenues for research.





    With LCLS, Devereaux says, “It became clear that we had an unprecedented opportunity to study materials that have been pushed farther away from equilibrium than was ever possible before.”

    Basic Questions and Practical Answers

    The DOE-funded theory institute has hired two staff scientists, Chunjing Jia and Das Pemmaraju, and works closely with SLAC staff scientists Brian Moritz and Hongchen Jiang and with a number of scientists at the three light sources.

    “We have two main goals,” Jia says. “One is to use X-ray spectroscopy and other techniques to look at practical materials, like the ones in batteries – to study the charging and discharging process and see how the structure of the battery changes, for instance. The second is to understand the fundamental underlying physics principles that govern the behavior of materials.”

    Eventually, she added, theorists want to understand those physics principles so well that they can predict the results of high-priority experiments at facilities that haven’t even been built yet – for instance at LCLS-II, a major upgrade to LCLS that will add a much brighter X-ray laser beam that fires up to a million pulses per second. These predictions have the potential to make experiments at new facilities much more productive and efficient.

    Running Experiments in Supercomputers

    Theoretical work can involve a lot of math and millions of hours of supercomputer time, as theorists struggle to clarify how the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics apply to the materials they are investigating, Pemmaraju says.

    “We use these laws in a form that can be simulated on a computer to make predictions about new materials and their properties,” he says. “The full richness and complexity of the theory are still being discovered, and its equations can only be solved approximately with the aid of supercomputers.”

    Jia adds that you can think of these computer simulations as numerical experiments – working “in silico,” rather than at a lab bench. By simulating what’s going on in a material, scientists can decide which of all the experimental options are the best ones, saving both time and money.

    The institute’s core research team includes theorists Joel Moore of the University of California, Berkeley and John Rehr of the University of Washington. Rehr is the developer of FEFF, an efficient and widely accessible software code that is used by the X-ray light source community worldwide. Devereaux says the plan is to establish a center for FEFF within the institute, which will serve as a home for its further development and for making those advances widely available to theorists and experimentalists at various levels of sophistication.

    TIMES and SIMES are funded by the DOE Office of Science, and the three light sources – ALS, SSRL and LCLS – are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 8:44 pm on July 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Quantum Materials,   

    From UBC: “UBC positioned as global leader in quantum materials research with $66.5-million federal government investment” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    July 30, 2015

    Public Affairs
    310 – 6251 Cecil Green Park Road
    Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
    Tel 604 822 6397
    Fax 604 822 2684
    Website http://news.ubc.ca
    Email public.affairs@ubc.ca

    Quantum Matter Institute Director Andrea Damascelli. Credit: NSERC

    A $66.5-million investment from the Government of Canada—the largest government investment in a single UBC research program—will enhance UBC’s standing as a global leader in quantum matter research and help connect university research with industry.

    UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI), the recipient of the $66.5-million investment over seven years from the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund, is a world-class centre of excellence in quantum research. This investment builds on past government support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Excellence Research Chair and Canada Research Chair programs, Western Economic Diversification and the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

    UBC is one of only five recipients selected through a highly competitive process that, together, received a total of almost $350 million in the inaugural round of funding. The funding program was created to propel Canada’s top performing institutions and research centres onto the world stage.

    “We are thrilled with the federal government’s vision to invest $66.5 million to help establish UBC as a global centre for high-tech quantum materials research,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. “The groundbreaking scientific discoveries in this field have the potential to create practical applications that could spur new industries and employment here and abroad and provide significant public benefits in areas like health and the environment.”

    Quantum physics is the study of the unusual behaviour of matter and energy at the atomic level, where the laws of classical physics do not apply. Quantum effects are more apparent under extreme conditions such as low temperatures, but can be enhanced and harnessed in quantum materials— systems with astonishing electronic and magnetic properties that hold tremendous potential for future technological applications. Discoveries in this field are expected to lead to a revolution in computing, electronics, medicine and sustainable energy technologies.

    “UBC’s quantum matter community is extremely excited about today’s funding announcement,” said Andrea Damascelli, QMI director. “Support from Canada First Research Excellence Fund will propel our Quantum Matter Institute to the very forefront of the field internationally. By enabling us to fully exploit our institute’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and further strengthen our international partnerships, especially with the Max Planck Society of Germany, this funding program will advance Canada’s position as a global leader in quantum materials and future technologies.”

    QMI is also home to the Max Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, which fosters collaborations with 10 Max Planck institutes. This is the third international centre ever established outside Germany by the prestigious Max Planck Society, and the only one fully dedicated to quantum materials research.

    “The relationship between UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and the Max Planck Society, Germany’s premier institution for fundamental research, shows how the exchange of ideas and cooperation across borders can lead to important discoveries in the emerging field of quantum materials,” said Bernhard Keimer, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. “With this funding, we look forward to creating more joint research activities, expanding opportunities for students and young scientists, and producing extraordinary scientific results together.”

    UBC, under the leadership of former president Stephen Toope, played a key role in the creation of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund working with other universities and in partnership with the federal government. UBC would like to congratulate the research team, faculty and staff involved in the funding application on their success.

    VIDEO: Dr. Andrea Damascelli is generating new knowledge about quantum materials and their exciting potential.

    UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI) is internationally recognized for its research and discoveries in the field of quantum materials. A $66.5-million investment from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will broaden the scope of QMI’s research.

    What is UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI)?

    QMI was created in 2010 and is made up of a research team of 13 professors, plus students, technicians and postdoctoral fellows. The group will grow to 20 professors by 2019.
    In 2012, QMI became the home of the Max Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, the only international Max Planck Centre focused on quantum materials research.
    UBC welcomed Harvard physicist Jennifer Hoffman as its new Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Materials and Devices Based on Oxide Heterostructures in June 2015.
    QMI will move into a new state-of-the-art facility in summer 2016.

    What is UBC’s vision for the future of quantum materials?

    Over the longer term, the materials and devices conceived within QMI are likely to create the foundation for new technologies. Entrepreneurial students or faculty can spin-off these concepts into start-up companies. QMI will anchor new companies or even whole industries around UBC, resulting in British Columbia becoming a hub for next-generation technologies that we cannot yet fully imagine.

    How are quantum materials used today?

    Few quantum materials are currently used in industrial applications today as we are still trying to understand the basic physics and chemistry and how to create them, in order to control and harness their properties.

    How is UBC helping to find applications for quantum materials?

    The new federal funding marks the beginning of enhanced research on applications. While a lot of QMI’s previous work advanced our understanding of the fundamental science, the goal going forward is to better control the properties of quantum materials.
    QMI aims to build materials with the desired quantum properties using a process that is suited for industrial applications. The materials will consist of thin films only a few atoms thick and the researchers will stack layers of different materials on top of each other with atomic precision forming so-called heterostructures.
    The team will identify the most promising materials and devices for next-generation electronic, communication, computing, medical and renewable energy technologies.
    QMI will also create first-of-their-kind examples of radically new device concepts that exploit novel properties of quantum materials and illustrate entirely new types of functions that transcend current technologies.

    How will quantum materials be used in the future?

    Controlling these materials could, for example, reduce MRI scanners from the size of a garden shed to a portable laptop-sized device, enable superefficient electrical grids, and economize superconductive materials like those used in magnetic levitation trains. They could also lead to a wide range of more efficient and powerful computing and electronic devices such as high-performance batteries and supercapacitors, ultra-low power/high-speed transistors, new computing architectures, and ultra-sensitive bio-sensors.

    What are quantum materials?

    Every material is intrinsically quantum mechanical at the atomic level. However, we use the name to describe materials that exhibit astonishing properties that completely depart from classical physics on a macroscopic scale.

    What are examples of quantum properties?

    Superconductivity and magnetism are properties of quantum materials. If you delve deeper into the physics, you’ll find other properties that relate to the charge and movement of electrons which are tiny bits of negatively charged matter that zip around the nucleus of an atom like planets orbiting a very small sun. These effects are enhanced under extreme conditions like very cold temperatures or high pressure but the goal is to develop quantum materials that exhibit these properties at elevated temperatures for use in ambient conditions. Quantum materials include copper and iron-based superconductors and graphene.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

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