HomeEducationGraduate and Undergraduate ProgramsResearch Experience for Undergraduates (REU)REU 2018 ProjectsTopological states of matter probed with pulse-echo ultrasound

Topological states of matter probed with pulse-echo ultrasound

Professor: Brad Ramshaw

Project Description: Much of what we study in condensed matter physics can be probed by looking at the charge or spin of electrons: electrical resistivity, magnetization, the photoelectric effect, nuclear magnetic resonance, and scanning-tunneling microscopy are a few examples. Some systems, however, have more subtle degrees of freedom that can’t be measured using conventional techniques. A great example is the gapless Majorana Fermion mode and its accompanying gauge-fluxes that are predicted to occur in particular spin-liquid systems. We use ultrasound – the high-frequency propagation of sound through a material – to look for new types of excitations such as these Majorana Fermions. Sound is like gravity – it couples to everything – and therefore is a great way to look for otherwise hidden degrees of freedom. The student will develop the ability to sputter thin-film zinc-oxide transducers onto RuCl3 – a candidate spin-liquid system. This will involve working with the facilities in the CCMR, including the sputtering chamber and the profilometer. The student will work with a graduate student to test these transducers and work on optimizing them for use over a broad frequency range, and for both shear and compressional ultrasound.
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