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Event Details

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • Duane Physics Room G1B20

Speaker Name(s): 

Harry Nelson

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of California, Santa Barbara
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Physics Department Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

 High temperature superconductivity discovered in 1987 precipitated a revolution in solid state physics. All of a sudden physicists were forced to study complicated dirty materials with large unit cells and many interacting degrees of freedom. On a philosophical level, it became apparent that sometimes simple, striking, and very cool phenomena derive from complexity: Emergent phenomena in complex quantum materials became a new frontier in physics. Understanding these phenomena is often beyond traditional theory, although great progress is being made. It requires detailed direct knowledge of the inner workings of materials that can only be obtained through measurements. This necessity stimulated huge investments into new tools to study materials, many of which can rival high energy physics facilities. In fact solid state physicists took advantage of advances made by high energy physicists in accelerator science and built accelerator-based neutron and x-ray sources that can provide an extremely detailed picture of atomic and electronic structure, as well as dynamics of materials. I will describe some theoretical challenges of studying materials with complex interactions and tell about one of the newest large facilities for meeting the challenge from experimental side: the Spallation Neutron Source. It combines the most powerful pulsed neutron beams in the world with as a set of giant "eyes" that look into a wide range of materials by analyzing how neutrons bounce from investigated samples. I will give an example of a specific measurement from my research to illustrate its capabilities.