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Condensed Matter Physics

Research in Oxford

● Condensed matter physics group

● Research themes

● Graduate study in condensed matter physics

copy of this lecture at www.physics.ox.ac.uk/CM

Condensed Matter Physics at Oxford

(chairman: Prof Roger Davies)

Astrophysics Atmospheric & Atomic & Condensed Particle & Theoretical

Oceanographic Laser Physics Matter Physics Nuclear Physics Physics
Physics (Head: Dr Andrew Boothroyd)
CMP sub-department
Dr A Ardavan
Dr R M Berry
Prof S J Blundell
Dr A T Boothroyd
Prof R A Cowley
● 17 academics Prof A M Glazer
Dr J F Gregg
● 30 research staff/visitors Dr L M Herz
Dr M B Johnston
Prof N F Johnson
● 55 graduate students Mr H Jones
Dr A N Kapanidis
Prof R J Nicholas
Prof J F Ryan
Dr R Taylor
Prof A J Turberfield
Dr R C C Ward
Condensed matter physics
in the 20th century


● one-electron band theory

● simple metals, insulators & semiconductors

● magnetism

● conventional superconductors
(BCS theory, 1957)
Developments and challenges
in condensed matter physics

● Quantum materials
— materials with exotic physical properties
arising from quantum effects

● Nanoscale physics
— natural and artificial structures for
novel electronic devices

● Biological physics
— applying physics to understand biology
and using biological material to make devices

● Complexity in condensed matter

— emergence of large-scale behaviour not
pre-existent in the constituents of a system
Quantum Materials
Materials with strong electronic correlations
can form new states of matter
with dramatic physical properties

High temperature superconductivity Colossal magnetoresistance

Quantum Materials
Strong electronic correlations
Competition between different
electronic degrees of freedom
Spin–charge order Charge–orbital order

1/2-filled band
(Mott insulator)

5/8-filled band

3/4-filled band
Quantum Materials
Crystal geometry is important

Geometric frustration leads Quantum fluctuations

to high degeneracy important in low dimensions

E.g. one-dimensional S=1/2 antiferromagnet

E.g. triangular antiferromagnet

Spinon dispersion relation

Doubly degenerate ground state Energy

Quantum Materials
Research groups

Ardavan magnetic molecules, electron-spin resonance,

carbon nanomaterials, polarization synchrotron
Blundell magnetic molecules and oxides, organic
superconductors, muon-spin spectroscopy
Boothroyd magnetic oxides, unconventional superconductors,
neutron and X-ray scattering
Cowley quantum magnetism, magnetic thin films,
neutron and X-ray scattering
Glazer crystallography, phase transitions, polarization
microscopy, X-ray diffraction
Jones applied superconductivity, superconducting
materials, magnet development
Ward Epitaxial growth of magnetic thin films
and superlattices, structural characterisation
Muon-spin rotation
Prof Steve Blundell’s group
Positron decay is asymmetric with
respect to the initial muon-spin
polarization because of parity MUON POSITRON NEUTRINOS
violation. Muon-spin precession
rate follows local magnetic field

Fundamental studies of
molecular magnetism,
correlated oxides, and organic
superconductivity ISIS, Oxfordshire
The world’s most intense
Source of pulsed muons

PSI, Switzerland - continuous muon beam

Dr Andrew Boothroyd
Unravelling electronic order in complex magnetic oxides

Current projects:
Unconventional superconductors
Spin–charge ordered systems
Orbital order
Mirror furnace in Clarendon Lab

Phase diagram of NaxCoO2

ILL/ESRF site in Grenoble, France

MAPS neutron spectrometer at ISIS

Experimental techniques:
1. Neutron and X-ray scattering
using international facilities,
e.g. Institut Laue-Langevin (France) and
ISIS Facility (Rutherford Appleton Lab)
Copper oxide superconductor Magnon dispersion relation
2. Magnetometry, heat capacity, transport,
crystal growth, etc, in the Clarendon Lab.
Professor A.M. Glazer (Room 373, tel:272290 glazer@physics.ox.ac.uk

1. Study of phase transitions and relationship between

crystal structure and physical properties. Uses x-ray
and neutron diffraction plus optical microscopy
2. Design of novel instrumention for the study of crystals
e.g. Metripol microscope (see www.metripol.com)

The figures below show optical birefringence measurents made with

a single crystal of lead magnesium niobate-titanate in which the
composition changes linearly from left to right. The whole phase
diagram is then traced out automatically when the temperature is
Theme: Characterisation of new materials
properties and critical construction methods
at cryogenic temperatures for MRI magnets.
Industrial CASE project sponsored by
Siemens Magnet Technology Ltd.

A project which straddles the boundaries of applied physics, materials science and
engineering and is highly relevant to both industry and medicine. The theme will
encompass many possible experimental and computer modelling techniques. These may
•Mechanical properties at cryogenic temperatures of metallic, polymeric,
superconducting and composite materials.
•Electrical properties at cryogenic temperatures and high magnetic fields
•Thermal properties at cryogenic temperatures and high magnetic fields
•Residual strain using neutron diffraction
•Development of superconducting electrical joints and measurement of their critical
currents at the pV m-1 level of electric field.
The student would play a major role in defining the precise content
and direction of the work. A practical, flexible attitude and an
interest in technological problem solving is essential.
Contact: Harry Jones, h.jones1@physics.ox.ac.uk
Research Projects in the Oxford MBE Group

MBE growth and characterisation Novel uranium multilayers -

of nanostructured magnetic fabrication, characterisation and
materials magnetic properties
(EPSRC collaborative project) (European research network)

Growth of epitaxial magnetic thin-film Growth by UHV sputtering of U/Fe

devices such as spin-valves and tunnel multilayers and other U/TM systems.
junctions. Limit to lower dimension (1D
Extend to compounds of uranium such
and 0D) by lithography/patterning.
as UO2.
Eg. MnFe/FeCo/MgO/Fe TMR structures Exploit 5f electron physics.
Superlattices of RE-TM compounds

Structural and magnetic characterisation

X-ray reflectivity and diffraction : laboratory and synchrotron sources ESRF, Grenoble (resonant
scattering) with Prof R.Cowley
Neutron reflectivity and diffraction : ISIS, Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, ILL, Grenoble
Electron diffraction : Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction (in-situ)
High Resolution Electron Microscopy (Materials Dept)
SQUID magnetometry : magnetic behaviour of epitaxial device structure

Roger Ward , Dept of Physics

Nano-scale physics
The study of atoms, molecules and other objects
whose dimensions are on the nanometer scale

● Quantum mechanical phenomena become apparent

● Possibility of making new materials that have

different characteristics from bulk materials

● New instrumentation has been developed

to fabricate and “see” nanoscale objects
(e.g. nanolithography, AFM, STM)

● Applications in novel electronic

and spintronic devices
STM image of Fe atoms on Cu surface
Nano-scale physics
Examples of topical nano-objects

Quantum dots
Nano-wires Quantum dots

Quantum wells
FIB patterned nanowires
Carbon nanotubes and fullerenes
Thin film structures and devices

Single molecules
Photonic crystals

Carbon buckyball
molecular nanostructure Carbon nanotubes
Nano-scale physics
Research groups

Gregg magnetic spintronic devices, magneto-optics,

magnetic sensors
Herz organic semiconductors, molecular self-assembly,
exciton dynamics, femtosecond spectroscopy
Johnston Time-domain spectroscopy, semiconductor
nanostructures, organic semiconductors
Nicholas Semiconductor nanostructures, carbon nanotubes,
photovoltaic devices, magneto-optical properties
Taylor Quantum dots and wells, ultrafast spectroscopy,
quantum information processing
Turberfield photonic crystals — fabrication and devices
Spin Electronics Group:
Dr. John Gregg
Current Group Interests:
• Silicon based spintronic devices
• Ultra fast magneto-optics
Silicon based spin transistor: The
• Novel magnetic sensor designs integration of magnetic selectivity into
conventional semi-conductor technology.
• Materials and interaction characterisation

Manipulation of spin systems using ultra

fast laser pulses. Exploring methods of
high speed optical switching and the
dynamics of magnetism on femtosecond
time scales

Magnetic resonance
force microscopy,
Measurement of the imaging and
electron spin polarisation manipulating
in metals using new magnetism on the
techniques nanoscale
Biological Physics and

Structure of biological molecules

● Dorothy Hodgkin (Oxford): structures of penicillin (1942-49),

vitamin B12 (1948-56), insulin (1933-69) by X-ray diffraction
● Double helix structure of DNA (Crick, Watson, Wilkins, Franklin 1953)
Biological Physics and

Oxford Bio-nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC)

(Director: Prof John Ryan)

● Molecular machines — proteins in which enzymic activity e.g. energy

conversion and self-assembly, are integrated to produce linear or
rotary motion on a nanometre scale
● Functional membrane proteins — biologically-evolved nano-switches
and triggers
● Nano-electronics and photonics — integration of electrically and
optically active biomolecules to produce devices, networks and sensors
● State-of-the-art equipment — fabrication, manipulation and detection
Biological Physics and
Research groups

Berry biological molecular motors, optical tweezers,

fluorescence microscopy
Fischer Mechanisms of viral ion channels,
Kapanidis genetic transcription, bio-nanomachines,
single molecule fluorecence spectroscopy
Ryan DNA/RNA motors and machines,
bio-nanotechnology, atomic force microscopy
Turberfield DNA nanostructures, DNA self-assembly,
DNA molecular machines
Complex systems with large numbers of interacting parts
can behave in a predictable way

● animal populations
● financial markets
● traffic flows
● interacting electrons
● biological networks
Graduate study in
condensed matter physics

Some famous Clarendon Lab. graduate students

Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley Sir Martin Wood

(Oxford Instruments plc)
Application Procedure
See www.admin.ox.ac.uk/gsp

● studentships (DTA, project, IRC, CASE, DTC, overseas)

● apply through the university
● monthly application deadlines (for UK/EU students)
(1 Jan ’06, 1 Feb ’06, etc, 1 June ’06)
● interviews 2–4 weeks after deadline
● decisions
Choosing a project

● Find out about projects

— research lecture (today)
— projects booklet
— group web sites
● Tell us which projects interest you
● Arrange informal visits to research groups
What will I actually do?

● making samples

● building apparatus
( )
( )
H = J ∑ Si ⋅ S j + J ′ ∑ Si ⋅ S j′ + Ka ∑ Six + Kc ∑ Siz

● theory <ij >

<ij ′ >
i i 2

stripe stripe 1.5


● measurement 0.5
x = 0.33
Qm = (1.33, 1.33)
T = 13 K
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Energy (meV)

● data analysis

● using international facilities


● Web sites:
● Research booklet
● Director of Graduate Studies:
Prof Mike Glazer (m.glazer1@physics.ox.ac.uk)
● Consensed Matter secretary:
Mrs Janet Andrews (j.andrews1@physics.ox.ac.uk)
● Head of Condensed Matter Physics:
Dr Andrew Boothroyd (a.boothroyd@physics.ox.ac.uk)