Project Level: Honours, Masters, PhD, Winter/Summer

Condensed matter physicists sometimes pity our colleagues in high-energy physics. They are limited to studying a single vacuum and its excitations: the particles of the standard model. For condensed matter physicists every new phase of matter brings a new ‘vacuum’. Remarkably the low-energy excitations of these new vacua can be very different from the individual electrons, protons and neutrons that constitute the material. The condensed matter multiverse contains universes where the particle-like excitations carry only a fraction of the elementary electronic charge are magnetic monopole, or are their own antiparticle. None of these properties have ever been observed in the particles found in free space. Often emergent gauge fields accompany these ‘fractionalized’ particles, just as electromagnetic gauge fields accompany charged particles.

In this project you will discover the nature of the particles that emerge a recently phase of matter – the spin-state ice – that is predicted to occur in spin crossover materials. You will develop new theories of these materials and seek to discover other exotic phases in them.

Project members

Professor Ben Powell