Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley
Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
One of the most interesting areas of modern physics research is the study of materials where the independent electron approximation breaks down, and electrons within the material begin to have a large influence on each other. Such strongly correlated electron systems exhibit fascinating emergent phenomena, including magnetism and antiferromagnetism, giant and colossal magnetoresistance, spontaneous charge ordering, and perhaps most famously of all, high-temperature superconductivity. In the cuprate superconductors, discovered in 1986, critical temperatures as high as 160 K have been documented.
Strong electron correlations are also notoriously difficult to model theoretically, making experimental probes very important in understanding all of these systems. At the same time, the materials show great potential for real world applications. Superconductivity is potentially useful in long-range energy transfer and in any sort of device requiring a large magnetic field. Magnetism and magnetoresistance are crucial components in the design and manufacture of computers.