Research

Research at Blusson QMI fits within four themes (below), which emerged out of conversation and collaboration among our teams and inform our research strategy. In addition, we are leveraging our unique capabilities and expertise in pursuit of a trio of Grand Challenges; these three bold, ambitious ideas are interdisciplinary in nature, connecting researchers with expertise in theory, experiment, and materials design. Our Grand Challenges will guide our research priorities and engage all of our research groups and investigators in collaboration over the next decade.

Hands holding tweezers and sample materials for research.

What are quantum materials?

Quantum materials are an emerging class of materials—crystals, alloys, and other compounds—with atomic-scale properties that are different from material properties that exist at the macroscopic scale. Quantum effects like superconductivity can be observed under extreme conditions, such as low temperatures, but these properties can be enhanced and harnessed in quantum materials, making them useful for applications as diverse as rapid transportation and medical imaging. Our increasing ability to control and exploit atomic properties give these novel materials incredible power and promise.

Damscelli lab researchers discussing an experiment in the TR-ARPES lab.

The building blocks of the future

Today, tools such as computers and cellphones are so ubiquitous we forget their intricacy, each object a complex network of physics and chemistry powered by semiconductors and other modern materials whose macroscopic properties are engineered at the smallest levels. Quantum materials are here, already deeply entwined with contemporary daily life. Their next generation will allow us to improve the tools we have and develop new tools with applications we have yet to conceive.

In most materials, electrons move around scatter independently of one another. By contrast, electrons in quantum materials engage in highly correlated motions that resemble a complex dance. These correlations give rise to a wide range of astonishing electronic and magnetic properties, evoking profound scientific questions and challenging the field of condensed matter physics.

Research at Blusson QMI seeks to unravel and exploit the complex phenomena that emerge in novel engineered materials—not only as a result of these strong electronic correlations, but also from other sources of extraordinary behavior, such as topological states or physical structures created artificially at the atomic scale.

Our research has advanced beyond merely exploring these materials so we can now begin to rationally design materials with the ideal properties to serve as building blocks for future ultra-high-performance technologies; synthesize these materials; characterize them, developing new experimental and theoretical techniques along the way as needed; and using them to fabricate archetype devices to demonstrate their technological potential.

 

Research Themes

What’s in a theme? Research themes help to frame approaches, concepts, and understanding of quantum phenomena. They can help guide discussion in a complex dialogue that can have many different entry points. Because Blusson QMI evolved out of collaborations among scientists with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and expertise, in 2018, we invested in the articulation of a new Quantum Materials by Design research strategy, and identified four thematic areas.

Atomic Level Design of Quantum Materials

This area explores materials in which strong local atomic interactions play a dominant role in determining electronic behavior and physical properties. Combining multi-scale modelling and calculations with highly advanced experimental characterization techniques enables rational design of novel quantum materials.

Emergent Electronic Phenomena at Interfaces

Heterostructures of atomically smooth interfaces of quantum materials exhibit emergent properties that do not exist in bulk. This extends the capacity for the rational atomic-level design of complex structures with tunable properties, creating a bridge from materials to devices, functionalities, and applications.

Topologically Protected Quantum States

Materials with topologically protected conducting or superconducting surface states exhibit many exotic phenomena. Topological protection of quantum states offers the potential to create a new class of quantum electronic devices that can leapfrog current efforts towards realizing quantum computing.

Photonic Manipulation of Quantum States

This theme develops coherent light sources and photonic techniques to control spin, valley, and charge degrees of freedom in 2D van der Waals materials, oxide superconductors, and silicon photonic circuits, to explore unique approaches in quantum computing and discover optically driven states of matter.

Our chance to dream big

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All of That Experimental Excitement in One Building

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Grand Challenges

We are working to find solutions to current and future problems for Canadians by developing materials, tools and technologies to solve some of the biggest environmental, medical, and computing challenges. To do this, we have established our Grand Challenges: three bold, ambitious ideas that will guide our research priorities and engage all of our research groups and investigators in collaboration over the next decade.

Quantum simulator in Joe Salfi's lab

Pushing the boundaries of Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) computing by Focusing on Quantum Materials Problems

The goal of this Grand Challenge is to devise quantum algorithms that, in their simplest instances, can be demonstrated with existing or near-future hardware, and with moderate further scaling up can lead to computational gains beyond existing classical computer hardware.

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Tall carbon nanotube forest

Atomistic approach to emergent properties of disordered materials

Discovering new materials for emerging technologies by utilizing the unique and surprising effects of the structural, chemical, magnetic, and electronic disorder.

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2D Grand Challenge researchers in Ziliang Ye's lab

Engineering exotic phases in two-dimensional (2D) materials

The unusual physics of electrons in two dimensions (2D) has given rise to a half-century of novel physics and technology, historically emerging at interfaces between conventional semiconductors. Two breakthroughs in the 2000s dramatically broadened this field.

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