Cluster 12

Exploring the Structure of Quantum Materials by X-ray and Neutron Scattering

Dave Belanger, PhD
UCSC Department of Physics
Abraham Wolcott, PhD
SJSU Department of Chemistry

Prerequisite: None

Summary: This cluster focuses on the scattering interactions of particles and electromagnetic waves with matter as well as their use in science and engineering. The most common techniques include X-ray and neutron scattering and diffraction. This topic is covered broadly from the fundamental theory to the experimental applications performed by scientists to the effects seen in everyday life. The importance of scattering and diffraction to materials research in the fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering will be emphasized.

All students in this cluster will be enrolled in the following courses:

The Physics of Scattering and Phase Transitions

The basic physics of X-ray and neutron scattering will be covered. Scattering is an essential tool for exploring the atomic structure of crystals that form materials fundamental to our technology-driven lives. Applications of scattering techniques to magnetic crystals will be explored. We will address how magnets acquire long-range order as the temperature is lowered. Transitions to ordered magnetic phases are particularly interesting because they can be measured with extraordinary precision. That allows models of the transitions to be tested and refined, which is important because they are the same models that apply to other transitions, such as those whereby gases become liquids and those governing how important solid materials are formed.

Application of Scattering Techniques to Bulk and Nanoscale Quantum Materials

Emergent technologies based on quantum mechanics, such as quantum computing, data transmission, cryptography, and quantum-based sensing, will become commonplace over the next decades. In this course, we will explore the field of quantum-based sensing materials research and the challenges that are being faced. Special attention will be given to bulk and nanoscale diamond. Diamond hosts a special fluorescent atomic defect, called a nitrogen vacancy center, that acts as an electron-spin quantum bit, or qubit. We will explore multiple surface-sensitive techniques and synchrotron spectroscopy techniques used by materials scientists to study the electronic structure of diamond and other exotic materials. We will visit the high-intensity Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource where these X-ray techniques are used in cutting-edge research.