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Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

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Experimental condensed matter physics is the largest research area in the department and includes many interacting research groups and facilities that access a wide range of materials and techniques. Some of the themes of our research are outlined below, with links to the research groups and facilities. Please contact the Admissions Tutor if you want to find out more about particular research themes. Students undertake the Materials Physics Doctorate scheme, giving access to a tailored research degree to help you exploit both our own outstanding materials growth, fabrication, characterisation and computational capabilities, and those at central facilities. A broad education in Materials Physics is provided through dedicated modules under the Midlands Physics Alliance Graduate School, and external courses.

The CMP groups are organised into three Research Clusters:

  • Nanoscale Physics
  • Superconductivity, Magnetism, Crystallography and Ultrasonics
  • Magnetic Resonance
   

    Materials Themes

    Our research covers a huge variety of solid materials and some major classes are outlined here.

    Semiconductors

    Research into semiconductors is undertaken by the Nano-Silicon Group (Si and Ge alloys, device physics, spintronics, epitaxy) and in the Surface, Interface & Thin Film Group (III-V and nitride materials, oxide semiconductors, spintronics, epitaxy). Associated with Nano-Silicon is the spin-out company Circadian Solar. The EPR and Diamond group are also involved with several carbon-based electronics projects, particularly focusing on dopants (defects) in diamond.

    Magnetic and superconducting materials

    Exotic magnetic materials and superconductors are studied principally by the Superconductivity and Magnetism Group which has facilities for producing material in-house and studying its magnetic and thermal properties. The group makes extensive use of neutron scattering facilities, particularly ISIS and ILL. Magnetic thin films on semiconductors (for spintronics) are studied in the Surface, Interface & Thin Film Group. The spin polarization of these materials is vital for this application and is being studied in the Magnetic X-ray Scattering group.

    Ferroic and non-linear optical materials

    These materials are mainly studied by the Ferroelectrics and Crystallography Group. As well as in-house crystal growth and analysis by X-ray diffraction and dielectric measurements, NMR and Microscopy are used extensively. New projects for thin film growth of these materials involve the Surface, Interface and Thin Film Group as well as Microscopy.

    Glasses and glass-ceramics

    These materials have a wide range of applications including nuclear waste immobilisation. Glasses can be produced in-house and analysis is undertaken using a wide variety of methods in the department, including NMR, microscopy, X-ray diffraction and optical spectroscopy.

    Nano-materials
    These materials include nano-carbon (e.g. nanotubes and graphene), studied mainly in the Microscopy group, self-assembled semiconductor quantum dots, silicon nano-device structures and bio-active glasses studied in the NMR Group.

    Experimental Technique Themes

    The experimental techniques available in the department are very important in defining research topics.

    Technique Development

    We are involved in many projects aiming to develop new experimental techniques and improve existing ones - such projects can be very rewarding for students with a strong practical bent. New combined optical/X-ray methods such as XEOL are being developed in the Analytical Science Projects group, while in the Ultrasonics group, development of measurement techniques is a key goal, as is their application in non-standard environments (high/low temperatures, in magnetic fields). Other examples of technique development include improved nuclear magnetic resonance and electron paramagnetic resonance methods for spectroscopic investigations on solids, enhanced sources of terahertz radiation, advanced X-ray and ion beam techniques for determining the atomic structure of solid surfaces, and advancing scanned probe microscopy for characterising materials such as ferroelectric or magnetic thin films at the nanometre scale.

    Microscopy

    There is an active research group focused on microscopy and the application of microscopy to nanomaterials, but the group also supports the Microscopy facilities which are used by many other groups in the department and across the university. Facilities include state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopy with electron energy loss spectroscopy, focused ion beam etching / imaging and scanned probe systems (atomic force microscopy and derived techniques). The Surface, Interface & Thin Film group also has several in-vacuum scanning tunnelling microscopes, capable of imaging surfaces at atomic resolution. The Analytical Science Projects group works in developing sources for ion microscopy.

    X-ray Techniques

    As well as powerful X-ray diffraction capabilities within the department, many ECM groups use synchrotron radiation sources such as the ESRF and Diamond to analyse materials. The Magnetic X-ray Scattering group uses Compton scattering and X-ray dichroism measurements extensively to understand the electronic structure of magnetic materials, including magnetic thin films and multi-layers grown in the Surface, Interface & Thin Film Group. This latter group uses synchrotron X-rays to study surface structure. Synchrotron X-rays are exploited by the Analytical Science Projects group for novel optical fluoresence imaging.

    Non-destructive Testing and Analysis

    The ability to analyse materials without damaging them is crucial in many areas, including industrial processes and the analysis of cultural heritage artefacts. The Ultrasonics group works on developing techniques for testing in a variety of industrial applications, such as rail inspection, while the Analytical Science Projects group has a strong interest in developing non-destructuve analytical methods for cultural heritage material.

    Ultrafast spectroscopy

    Using femtosecond lasers at the Warwick Centre for Ultrafast Spectroscopy, pump-probe experiments are used to track electron motion on femtosecond to nanosecond timescales. This allows the study of dynamical processes induced by light, such as charge transport in photovoltaic devices and other electronic materials.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This introduction will hopefully give you a flavour of the research within the Experimental Condensed Matter Physics area. If you have further questions please ask the research groups directly and/or contact Admissions Tutor.