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Quantum control of magnetism

We seek motivated undergraduates in our lab to address an outstanding and cross-cutting challenge of condensed matter/chemical/biological physics: how to achieve quantum control of magnetism and reveal highly non-equilibrium, “thermodynamically hidden” orders during femtosecond timescales? One example is a new paradigm discovered by our group called quantum femtosecond magnetism—fs magnetic and electronic phase transitions driven by quantum spin flucations and laser-excited inter-atomic coherences (T. Li, et al., Nature, 496, 69, 2013). Such far-from-equilibrium many-body problems involve an extremely poorly-understood interplay between quantum coherence, strong correlation and nonlinearity.

This research aims to answer the current technological demand to bump the gigahertz switching speed limit of today’s magnetic memory and logic devices into the terahertz regime. This underlies the entire field of spin–electronics and information storage/processing/communications devices. Our work will meet the challenge for condensed matter devices that can think ultra-fast, by all-optical quantum spin switching at terahertz (i.e. sub-picosecond) speeds.

Program mentor: Jigang Wang, Associate Scientist, Ames Laboratory and Assistant Professor, Iowa State University