The Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials encompasses a wide variety of experimental condensed matter and materials research, and focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to solving some of the most complex problems of today. Our "bricks and mortar" center maintains an extensive set of shared experimental facilities used to support our research program, utilized by a membership of 13 condensed matter physics faculty members and nearly 20 affiliate members from several other disciplinary departments on campus and elsewhere. CNAM's strong partnership with other centers and institutes on our campus, as well as other local facilities such as the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), a national user facility in nearby Gaithersburg, MD, provides for a unique and powerful research environment and capability. For instance, CNAM and NCNR have jointly developed a sophisticated set of materials synthesis facilities (housed in CNAM) to support mutual interests in quantum materials research and to support ongoing neutron scattering experiments at NCNR.
CNAM covers a diverse set of research activities, expertise and interests that produces a strong scientific output in a number of important areas of cutting-edge research, including traditional fields of condensed matter physics research such as superconductivity, magnetism, and strongly correlated electron physics, but also in new directions such as nanophysics, metamaterials and topological matter. Together, these areas of interest fall under a new categorization called Quantum Materials research (see Nature Editorial), which encompasses not only all such phenomena but also the complex and diverse set of correlations and interactions between seemingly disparate ground states.
CNAM researchers have a rich history of contributions to understanding the electronic properties of graphene, which is a remarkable material consisting of a single sheet of carbon atoms that shows many electrical properties dominated by the laws of quantum mechanics, even at room temperature. CNAM also has made signficant breakthroughs in discovery and understanding of superconductors, materials that conduct electricity without resistance. While it is a century-old phenomenon, superconductivity continues to defy our understanding, and pushing transition temperatures up to room temperature remains as one of the most alluring "holy grails" of condensed matter physics (see blog by N. Butch), not only to achieve dissipationless power transmission but to realize new technologies far beyond the silicon universe. CNAM is also active in developing and optimizing devices, techniques and concepts in the burgeoning area of quantum computing, with current research focused on superconducting quantum bits that show promise as a scalable technology for quantum mechanics-based information processing. Last but not least, the most recent explosion of interest and activity has occurred in the area of topological insulators and other materials that entail a novel "protection" that arises from topological aspects of electronic structure and interactions.
Together, CNAM brings essential resources to an important and vibrant field of physics research, providing a catalyst for enhancing the research environment of our department and university. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more!