Cluster 12

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

Dave Belanger, PhD
UCSC Department of Physics
Scott Oliver, PhD
UCSC Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Prerequisite: Chemistry, Algebra

Summary: This cluster focuses on the scattering interaction between matter with matter and light with matter as well as their use in science. The most common techniques include X-ray and neutron scattering and diffraction. This topic is covered broadly from the fundamental mathematical theory to the experimental applications performed by scientists to the effects seen in everyday life. The importance of scattering and diffraction in the fields of physics and chemistry will be emphasized. The syllabus will include lectures, labs, field trips (e.g. SSRL), etc.


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.

X-ray Diffraction of Materials and Their Chemical Properties

This portion will cover the method of X-ray diffraction for characterizing a variety of materials that are important for environmental and energy applications. Both single crystal and powder diffraction will be studied using our four instruments (two for each). Both include a table-top version that will be ideal for this course. The basic theory will be covered, including lattices/crystal structures, symmetry and diffraction planes.  Some details on each instrument will be discussed, along with ongoing demonstrations of the instruments. Materials that will be synthesized include zeolites, nanoparticles, metal organic frameworks, metal alloys and thin films. Time permitting, we will investigate the chemical properties of some of these materials.