One of the most fascinating forefronts of scientific progress is the exploration of macroscopic material properties which originate from explicitly quantum effects, such as magnetism, superconductivity, or unprecedented photonic characteristics which can only be accomplished through the powerful synergy of quantum effects and refined (meta)material design. These quantum phenomena are not only of fundamental interest but could lead to transformational information technologies with performance improvements potentially reaching many orders of magnitude in density, speed, and power consumption.
Our University’s research priority area “Quantum Phenomena in New Materials” aims at understanding, controlling, and utilizing the prospects of quantum effects through a wide range of coordinated activities and measures hosted at and organized by the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. In a concerted effort, we push the limits of current state-of-the-arts condensed matter physics by the development of sophisticated material growths and nanofabrication techniques, by the invention of novel analytical methods and through advanced theoretical concepts.
The combined expertise of experiment and theory, hosted by the Physical Institute and the Institute for Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics, respectively, is applied to paradigmatic model systems. This cooperation allows researchers to explore the underlying general physical mechanisms in prototypical frameworks that encompass a large and diverse solid-state material systems in great detail, ranging from ordered surface systems and highly correlated interfaces to nanostructured synthetic materials.
Particularly prominent research projects within this RPA in Würzburg include topological insulators and complex electronic systems, studies of light-matter interactions in semiconductor quantum dot/microcavity structures, local probes which are sensitive to a single electron spin, the theory of elementary excitations in many-body quantum matter, mesoscopic effects and quantum coherence in solid-state nanostructures, as well as novel infrared light emitters and organic photovoltaic elements.
The RPA greatly benefits from JMU’s extraordinary research infrastructures. In particular, we have a long tradition of excellence in providing a variety of II-VI and III-V semiconductor MBE by the Laboratory for Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and the Gottfried Landwehr Laboratory for Nanotechnology, with the focus on semiconductors tailored for narrow gap systems, electron and ion beam based nanofabrication, and fabrication development of nanoelectronic and nanophotonic devices.
With the completion of a research building for the new Institute for Topological Insulators (ITI) by 2020, JMU’s facilities in this research priority area are about to be further expanded, and will fortify its leading position in this field.
Physicists working on quantum phenomena in new materials have been exceptionally successful in attracting external funding, enabling them to conduct their research on the basis of large outreach and visibility (see selected links provided below). They have been awarded with four ERC Grants: Laurens Molenkamp (Advanced Grants in 2011 and 2017), Christian Schneider (Starting Grant 2016), Ronny Thomale (Starting Grant 2013).