About the Physical Properties of Materials Group

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The Physical Properties of Materials Group prepares and characterizes advanced materials featuring novel structural, electric and magnetic properties. For these fundamental studies we use in-house equipment in combination with experiments at the PSI large scale facilities. Our research is focused on the study of complex transition metal oxides with highly correlated electrons, mostly in powder or single crystalline form. This class of materials is characterized by the presence of competing interactions which often results in unusual electronic and magnetic properties. Such properties are both, challenging from a fundamental point of view and interesting for applications, especially in the fields of energy technologies, data storage and advanced electronics. 

We synthesize complex oxides in ceramic, single-crystalline or thin film form in collaboration with the Solid State Chemistry and the Mesoscopic Systems Groups (LMX, NUM), and with the Spectroscopy of Novel Materials Group (LSC, SYN). We characterize their magnetic and electronic properties using a broad palette of laboratory techniques (DC magnetization, AC susceptibility, electric resistivity, heat capacity) at temperatures ranging from 460 mK to 800 K. We operate and maintain one MPMS and two PPMS devices that we use alone, or in combination with external devices and home-made inserts for dielectric, pyroelectric, and ferroelectric measurements. 

We make extensive use of the neutrons, x-rays and muon large scale facilities at PSI, where we use mostly diffraction, but also spectroscopy and imaging techniques. This fosters synergies with other groups at the Research with Neutrons and Muons and Photon Science Divisions. We have also interdisciplinary collaborative projects with the Energy and Environmental Research Division. 

Our key research areas are: 

  • Multiferroic materials
  • Complex oxides at the boundary between itinerant and localized behaviour
  • Energy materials

Our ultimate goal is to make the link between the crystal structure and the physical properties with the aim of establishing design principles leading to materials exhibiting novel phenomena and improved functional properties.