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Research could improve important technologies such as data storage and power generation

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (10/18/16) — The University of Minnesota announced today that it will receive $2.6 million over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. The grant will be used to study materials at the most fundamental level that could improve important technologies including data storage, superconductors, fuel cells, and electrical power plants.

The new Center for Quantum Materials brings together an interdisciplinary research team from the University of Minnesota’s School of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. They will study chemical compounds, called complex oxides, that are notable for their wide range of magnetic and electrical properties.

“Complex oxides are finding their way into many technologies from energy to electronics, but in many cases scientists still don’t understand the fundamental science of how they work,” said Martin Greven, a physics and astronomy professor and lead researcher in the new Center for Quantum Materials. “By understanding these materials at a very basic level, we can begin to predict and control how they will act. This can help us develop new materials to improve technology.”

The Center for Quantum Materials is only the second center of its kind funded by the Department of Energy Office of Basic of Energy Sciences. A similar Institute for Quantum Matter includes researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University. The new center at the University of Minnesota will stimulate research by expanding research teams and improving collaboration among researchers locally, nationally, and internationally.

“This center puts the University of Minnesota on the map as a leading U.S. institution in the cutting-edge field of quantum materials,” Greven said. “It’s also recognition that the basic sciences are key to developing new materials that can improve our lives.”

Researchers in the new Center for Quantum Materials will use high-tech equipment at U.S. Department of Energy national labs such as one of the world’s most powerful X-ray machines at Argonne National Lab in Illinois and the world’s strongest neutron beam machine at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee. Work at the national labs will complement experimental and theoretical work done at the University of Minnesota to prepare, characterize, measure, analyze and model the complex oxides.

In addition to Greven, researchers who are part of the new Center for Quantum Materials include School of Physics and Astronomy professors Andrey Chubukov and Rafael Fernandes and Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science professors Bharat Jalan and Chris Leighton.

“This new center allows us to work collaboratively to accomplish much more than we could ever do as individuals,” Greven said. “Our long-term goal is to make the University of Minnesota a leader in the field of quantum materials.”


Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering, rzurn@umn.edu, (612) 626-7959

Lacey Nygard, University News Service, ljnygard@umn.edu, (612) 625-0552