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Dynamically controlling the properties of complex materials with light (DCCM)
Start date: Aug 1, 2013, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This project will use short pulses of light to understand, manipulate and control the properties of complex materials on nanometre lengthscales and femtosecond timescales. Complex materials have strongly coupled electronic, lattice and magnetic subsystems. This coupling makes the material properties difficult to explain with conventional theoretical techniques, but is responsible for the exotic phenomena that are observed, such as high temperature superconductivity. One method to unravel these interactions is to use ultrafast optical pulses to excite one, typically the electronic, subsystem on a timescale much faster than it couples to other components. This allows the energy flow through the system to be monitored in order to ascertain which parameters are most strongly coupled. In addition, exciting a specific subsystem can also lead to new and interesting properties to emerge. This demonstrates new ways to manipulate, dynamically, the properties of complex materials by light to access new phenomena. However, how these properties emerge still remains largely unknown.My research will address the questions surrounding this issue by attempting to answer, how these properties form and interact from the initial state, how these properties can be manipulated by different excitation mechanism, what properties can be induced and what do they tell us about the properties that define the underlying system? The project will look at both temporal and spatial dynamics to understand how correlations and interactions spread spatially and dynamically through an evolving system. These experiments will require combining a range of microscopic, spectroscopic and femtoscopic techniques in a new and innovative way, ranging from lab based experiments to the use of worldwide user facilities. The research will be fundamental in nature, asking questions that are at heart of condensed matter physics. However, the results will have technological implications that may be exploited."

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