Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

Quantum materials represent tangible manifestations of some of the deepest concepts in quantum physics, and have the potential to produce radically new device concepts that could transform our world. Our ability to shrink silicon-based computer chip and memory components down to smaller and smaller scales is fast approaching its physical and conceptual limits, and many industry leaders believe quantum materials to be the only way to sustaining our current rate of growth in information technology. For example, quantum materials such as Topological Insulators may hold the key to build powerful quantum computers and unbreakable communication protocols. The discovery of superconductivity in 1911 led, many decades later, to the realisation of practical MRI imaging, revolutionising modern medicine. The next generation of superconducting materials may well deliver faster communication and efficient energy transport and storage.
Although basic research in quantum materials is constantly abuzz with new concepts and new discoveries, translating these breakthroughs into proof-of-principle devices, such as "smart" transistors employing the magneto-electric effect, is an enormous challenge, which can only be met by strong, cohesive groups having a combination of fundamental and applied expertise. This Platform Grant will support a world-class team of 10 Academics, 2 EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellows and up to 8 Research Associates, with expertise ranging from the spectroscopy of quantum materials using photons, neutrons and muons to materials modelling to the growth of novel materials and patterning of prototype quantum devices using nanofabrication techniques. Specifically, the Platform will enable us to focus on a series of development projects, from blue sky to the transition to real-world applications, with the potential of significant breakthroughs and technological outcomes. The scientific portfolio of the Platform will exploit a series of recent developments in experimental techniques, many of them initiated by our Research Associates. Examples include: the upgrade of our unique pulsed magnetic field system, which can now reach 65 Tesla (a record for the UK); measurements of electronic properties on micron-size crystals using nano-lithography and advanced microtools; the combination of first-principle theory and experiments such as Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy; and the ability to grow exotic quantum materials in thin-film form and to pattern them to build prototype devices such as transistors or memories. The Platform Grant portfolio will evolve dynamically to support new and as yet unforeseen projects, with the potential of generating further step changes in our understanding of quantum materials and of providing UK industries with a first glimpse of new disruptive technologies.
The Platform Grant will enable us to retain and develop key high-level technical and scientific expertise, which is essential for the success of these projects and represents a strategic asset of the Quantum Materials group. In particular, our career development plan will focus on building breadth and independence for all staff associated with the Platform Grant.

Planned Impact

Beyond academia, the Platform Grant will have an impact on:

(a) The existing UK industrial base: major UK industries in the field of medical imaging (e.g., Siemens Magnet Technologies UK) and cryogenic instrumentation (Oxford Instruments, Agilent) rely for many of their products on technologies based on quantum materials such as superconductors. This is a highly competitive field, and collaboration with academia is perceived to be crucial by CEOs and company directors, as demonstrated, for example, by the sizeable funding they provide to the newly created Centre for Applied Superconductivity. The research underpinned by this Platform Grant will develop next-generation materials for devices such as MRI machines, which would enable a much more open design, radically improving patient experience, and would not need to be cooled by expensive and scarce liquid helium. It will also support a suite of advanced measurement techniques, and new methodologies that exploit them, which will accelerate the development of cheaper and smarter products.

(b) Future industries: the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors lists many quantum materials, such as complex oxides, Mott materials, molecular materials and multiferroics as "emerging research materials". Companies such as Samsung and Microsoft are investing heavily in quantum materials research. An example is provided by the new field of topological insulators, which has made enormous strides, from early proofs of concepts to the design and fabrication of gated devices in which the Fermi energy can be precisely tuned. It has been proposed that devices combining topological insulators with superconductors or magnets can lead to a robust realisation of quantum computing, since the qubits would be topologically protected from decoherence. With the support of this Platform Grant, the quantum materials group will exploit a series of recent University investments in thin film growth and nanofabrication, and will bring to bear a powerful combination of theory and experiments, so that novel quantum materials can be grown in the form of thin film and heterostructures and patterned at the nanoscale into proof-of-principle devices. These developments have clear transformative potential for the UK industrial base, and could underpin entirely new devices and products for information storage and processing, sensing, communications, and other applications, with countless advantages. For example, fast, non-volatile multiferroic memories would use much less power than present technologies, and would enable the realisation of the "normally-off" laptop - a true paradigm shift in consumer computing. Topological quantum materials could be the core technology of the first generation of room-temperature, iPhone-size quantum computers.

(c) The general public: while a number of brilliant science communicators have placed high-energy physics and astronomy firmly in the public eye, there is still a tremendous need for the general public and policymakers to understand how basic research in materials properties leads to the development of technologies and products that will ultimately change our way of life. Such understanding would have the potential to increase engagement in physical sciences at school, interest in national laboratories such as Diamond and ISIS, and contributions to the innovation environment of the UK. The counterintuitive behaviour of our quantum materials will provide intriguing and powerful examples of how quantum physics translates to macroscopic properties and new technologies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description (1) The coupling between the spin and momentum of carriers in the surface states of topological insulators (TIs) is key to many of their proposed technological applications. We have shown that, by modifying the surface of the TIs with molecules with controllable spin, we can separate the roles of electrostatic and magnetic components of a scattering potential, thereby probing experimentally this momentum-spin locking. (2) The magnetic interactions in yttrium iron garnet (YIG), the current best-in-class material for magnonics applications, were successfully measured by time-of-flight inelastic neutron scattering. Previous models of magnetism in YIG fail to describe the measured optical magnon modes, and a new model was developed which shows that the magnetic interactions are both longer-ranged and more complex than was previously understood. The results provide the basis for accurate calculations of the finite temperature magnetic properties of YIG, necessary for next-generation magnonic devices.
Exploitation Route (1) Topological insulators could be a promising route for novel forms of quantum information processing. (2) YIG is a key component of current and future IT applications, especially in the emerging field of magnonics.
Sectors Electronics

 
Description A state-of-the-art optical floating-zone furnace for crystal growth at high pressures
Amount £893,916 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R024278/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 08/2020
 
Description A state-of-the-art optical floating-zone furnace for crystal growth at high pressures
Amount £893,916 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R024278/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 09/2020
 
Description International Exchanges 2015 Cost Share (China)
Amount £11,621 (GBP)
Funding ID IE150959 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 12/2018
 
Description Johnson RS-URL Fellowship
Amount £505,068 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2020
 
Description Unravelling halide segregation in hybrid perovskites for Si tandem photovoltaics
Amount £1,121,958 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P033229/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Title Single crystal growth by chemical vapour transport method 
Description I set up a chemical vapour transport (CVT) furnace and several solution growth facilities in the Clarendon Laboratory (Oxford) for growing single crystals of frustrated quantum magnets, pnictide superconductors and inorganic-organic hybrid perovskites. CVT is a method that produces the most high-purity crystals compared to other crystal growth systems. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have publisheshed over 10 papers within 2 years, and all the materials investigated in those papers, where syntheised and grown using CVT setup at the Clarendon Laboratory. 
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation De Beers Group
Department Element Six
Country Luxembourg 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation Local Enterprise Partnerships
Department Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation Oxford Instruments
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Department High Power Targets Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation Siemens AG
Department Siemens Magnet Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Centre for Applied Superconductivity (CfAS) 
Organisation Tokamak Solutions
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Applied Superconductivity is a joint project between the Materials Department and the Physics Department of the University of Oxford and the local industrial partners and research centres with interests in future applications of superconducting materials. Our Centre aims to pursue projects that can lead to future technologies and lead to the discovery of novel superconducting materials. The Oxford Quantum Materials Platform Grant team is providing equipment and critical expertise to the Centre, both in the measurement of superconducting cables and joints and in fundamental aspects of superconducting research.
Collaborator Contribution CfAS has funded new laboratories in both Physics and Materials Departments and new growth and characterisation equipment, as well as two support staff (one technician and one engineer) and several studentships and apprenticeships. The new labs and equipment are available to all Quantum Material Platform Grant CoIs, not only for superconductivity research, but also to further the broader aims of the Grant.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between physics and materials involving the superconductivity, cryogenics and instrumentation industrial sectors. The CfAS labs have just been completed, so there is no publication output to report yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description IoP Beijing 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Sciences
Department Institute of Physics
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experimental measurements by neutron and x-ray scattering
Collaborator Contribution Supply of high quality single crystals
Impact A growing list of publications
Start Year 2016
 
Description Curiosity Carnival - Magnetism short talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the university's Curiosity Carnival, the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer took part in the 'Speakers' Corner', giving short talks to passers by about magnetism. The purpose was to raise the profile of research related to quantum materials by making it more visible. The audience was very varied but engaged with the talk, asking and answering questions. The comments received after the talks were positive, including "My children loved it, it was great to see a girl making physics cool!".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Evening of Quantum Discovery 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An evening event for interested public, featuring lectures, tours of laboratories and a hands-on science fair all about "quantum"-related research. The event was organised as a collaboration between the Quantum Materials group and the Networked Quantum Information Technologies group. One of the three lectures was given by Professor Andrew Boothroyd, and another was given by DPhil student Fran Kirschner. Members of the Quantum Materials group ran lab tours and stalls. The purpose of the event was to showcase the exciting research that happens in our group in a way that was accessible to and interesting for people with little or no understanding of quantum physics, as well as to improve general understanding of quantum physics. 88% of those who responded to the feedback survey said that their understanding of quantum physics had improved "a lot" or "a little" from this event, and 84% said they were inspired to learn more about quantum physics. (Survey had 59 respondents, representing 40% of attendees.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.nqit.ox.ac.uk/news/evening-quantum-discovery
 
Description Levitate! 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Levitate! is a workshop to introduce the key ideas of superconductivity. It is usually given to a group of around 20 students from a school. It is a mix of front-of-class presentations and demonstrations together with hands-on experiments for the participants. Students from schools love this workshop and are fascinated by the demonstrations of superconductors and low temperature behaviour of materials. They always ask lots of questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/research/quantum-materials/group-activities/outreach
 
Description Magnets Fantastic - Department Christmas Lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A new interactive demonstration lecture / show was created by the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer, Kathryn Boast. Called "Magnets Fantastic",iIt showcases magnetism from a very basic starting point through to demonstrations of paramagnetism, antiferromagnetism and diamagnetism, including creating strong magnetic fields and the levitation of superconductors. The show was piloted to a class of local schoolchildren before being presented as the Department of Physics Family Christmas Lectures.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Mini Curiosity Carnival - Magnetic Cabaret 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Quantum Materials group had a stall about magnetism at the Mini Curiosity Carnival - a science fair at the Templars Square Shopping Centre. This featured hands-on, interactive demonstrations of magnetism suitable for all ages, from bar magnets to homopolar motors and magnetic slime. The event was held in an area typically associated with low uptake of engagement opportunities, to encourage attendance at the main Curiosity Carnival event that followed. Many passers by stayed at the stall and asked questions about the demonstrations, including families with children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.templarssquare.com/events/can-you-turn-orange-into-grapefruit-curiosity-carnival/
 
Description Oxford Academy Summer School - Magnetism & Superconductors talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Quantum Materials Outreach Officer, Kathryn Boast, gave an interactive talk about magnetism and superconductors as part of the Oxford Academy Summer School, for gifted and talented students in Year 7 at the Oxford Academy. The students were keen to take part in the activities, and reported learning about cooling and superconductors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Oxplore - QM and the future 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School students aged 12-16 from around the country were invited to Oxford University for the launch of 'Oxplore'. The day included some taster sessions around the topic of 'Would you want to live forever?', and one of these was given by the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer. The purpose of the activity was to showcase some of the future possibilities that could result from quantum materials research, and so demonstrate its importance and applicability outside academia. The session focussed on what the near and distant future might look like with technologies developed from quantum materials. The students were engaged and asked questions during the session. The helpers reported that the students were talking at lunchtime about the demonstrations the had seen in the quantum materials session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School visits to the department - Superconductors topics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School groups have visited the department and the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer has given a workshop on superconductors. Students reported more knowledge of superconductors and their uses following the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Social Media Takeover - Experiment at Diamond 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact For two days, the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer, Kathryn Boast, took over the Department of Physics social media channels, particular the Twitter and Instagram accounts. The posts followed the progress of an experiment being undertaken at Diamond Light Source by one of the DPhil students in the Quantum Materials group. The intended purpose was to showcase what it is like to be a researcher in quantum materials, and shed light on how the research is done. Over the two days, the series of Tweets achieved almost 30,000 impressions and over 1,000 engagements (which include likes, retweets, replies and clicks). This was the first time this had been tried by the Department, and the success of it means they are keen to do it again with another researcher.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://storify.com/Kathryn_EB/on-a-quantum-materials-experiment
 
Description Stargazing - Superconductors Stall 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oxford's Department of Physics holds a 'Stargazing Oxford' day every year, which often has around 1,000 visitors. In 2018, the Quantum Materials group had a stall in the 'Science Cafe' area for the first time. The purpose was to showcase a different area of physics (quantum materials / condensed matter physics) that is often less well known to children by including it in an event focussed on astrophysics and astronomy. The Quantum Materials group demonstrated levitating superconductors and "MagLev" trains, alongside which were some superconducting chips used in telescopes. Young children and adults alike were captivated by the levitating superconductor, and many were interested in understanding how superconductivity works.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stimulating Physics Network talk on Magnetism 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A talk on magnetism for a group of physics teachers who are not physics specialists, which ranged from basic magnetism and electromagnetism to the research undertaken in the Quantum Materials group on high magnetic fields and superconductors. This talk was presented by Kathryn Boast, the Quantum Materials Outreach Officer. The talk was well received, with teachers asking questions and engaging with the material. Feedback included: "The electromagnetism lecture and demonstration that followed, was probably one the very best I have seen and as a teacher I am totally inspired to send you the very best physicists, thinkers and problem solvers, from quite meagre backgrounds. If I am gushing with passion about seeing levitation of superconductors and friction-less train sets, then so will my students be."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017