Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Structural, Magnetic, and Ferroelectric Characterization of Designer Multiferroics Created by Molecular-Beam Epitaxy
Disciplines:  Applied Physics, E&AS
Mentor:  Darrell Schlom, Herbert Fisk Johnson Prof. of Industrial Chemistry, (CCE),, Phone: 607-255-6504
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE: This project is being offered by a Caltech alumnus and will take place in Ithaca, NY. Because of funding restrictions, applicants for this project must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

We are entering a new era of materials research, one in which materials with properties superior to those of any known are being designed with the aid of the computer. Our theory collaborators are continually coming up with new arrangements of atoms, customized at the atomic-layer level, that they believe will exhibit even better properties. A major challenge, however, is to prepare these materials to realize these properties. This is our research goal and we do it using a thin film growth technique called molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE). My group, which has expertise in synthesis, works as a team together with other groups with expertise in theory and characterization to target and unleash the record-breaking properties of oxide materials. Using this “materials-by-design” approach, our team has achieved some major successes including a new multiferroic material in which ferrimagnetism can be controlled by an electric field at room temperature (J.A. Mundy et al. “Atomically Engineered Ferroic Layers Yield a Room-Temperature Magnetoelectric Multiferroic,” Nature 537 (2016) 523–527.). Having understood the inner workings of this new multiferroic, we are eager to create an even better manifestation of it with superior performance.
Description:  As a SURF student, you will be an integral member of our research team working to make a multiferroic material that enables the electrical control of magnetism at room temperature. At first you will gain familiarity with the characterization techniques you will be using to assess the structural, magnetic, and ferroelectric properties of the new materials that are being created by your co-mentor using MBE. Once you have learned the operational details of x-ray diffraction, vibrating sample magnetometry, and polarization vs. electric field measurements, you will measure the films being grown by your co-mentor to provide important feedback allowing optimized conditions to be found for the growth of a new oxide material believed to be a superior multiferroic. You will brainstorm together with the entire team—involving theory, synthesis, and characterization—to gain understanding of the connection between the structure and properties of the materials made and devise a route to create a superior multiferroic.
References:  J.A. Mundy, C.M. Brooks, M.E. Holtz, J.A. Moyer, H. Das, A.F. Rébola, J.T. Heron, J.D. Clarkson, S.M. Disseler, Z. Liu, A. Farhan, R. Held, R. Hovden, E. Padgett, Q. Mao, H. Paik, R. Misra, L.F. Kourkoutis, E. Arenholz, A. Scholl, J.A. Borchers, W.D. Ratcliff, R. Ramesh, C.J. Fennie, P. Schiffer, D.A. Muller, and D.G. Schlom, “Atomically Engineered Ferroic Layers Yield a Room-Temperature Magnetoelectric Multiferroic,” Nature 537 (2016) 523–527.
Student Requirements:  Familiarity with electricity and magnetism (Ph 1b,c or equivalent) and fundamentals of x-ray diffraction (MS 90 or APh 77, or equivalent)
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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Problems with or questions about submitting an AO?  Call Jen Manglos of the Student-Faculty Programs Office at (626) 395-2885.
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