Bulk crystals can display heavy fermion behaviour, where the effective mass of mobile carriers can be up to 1000 times larger than the bare electron mass due to electron-electron interactions. Many of these materials are U-based compounds, such as UGe2 and UPt3, and they also display a range of other fascinating physics including unconventional superconductivity, quantum criticality and magnetism. The ability to grow such materials as thin films opens up a range of interesting possibilities: (i) we can explore the effect of dimensionality by tuning the film thickness; (ii) apply compressive and tensile strains using different crystalline substrates to tune the emergent physics; (iii) we can create more complex structures such as superlattices and device architectures to interrogate the system in novel ways. While there have been a few studies in these directions there is a vast range of opportunities open to explore.
In Bristol we have a thin film sputtering system, unique in the UK, capable of growing compounds of uranium in high quality single crystal form. In the coming 18 months this system will be upgraded to a National Nuclear User Facility with added capabilities. This project will leverage this equipment to investigate the materials aspects of growth as well as the low temperature properties of various U-based compounds in the search for novel tuning parameters to control heavy fermion behaviour, superconductivity and magnetism in these materials. More information about the two research areas combined in this project can be found here www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/qsm/ and http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/materials/iac/
Candidates should have completed an undergraduate degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Physics, and be interested in materials growth, structural characterisation, and low temperature transport studies.
How to apply:
Please make an online application for this project at http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. Please select ‘Physics (PhD)’ on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. Please make sure you include the title of studentship and the contact supervisor in your Personal Statement.
Contacts: Chris Bell, [Email Address Removed] ; and Ross Springell, [Email Address Removed]