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Scattering and Instrumentation Sciences

Scattering and Instrumentation Sciences
Scientific Team Lead: TBD

This program area encompasses basic research in condensed matter physics and materials physics using electron, neutron, and x-ray scattering capabilities.  Research includes experiment and theory that seeks to achieve a fundamental understanding of the atomic, electronic, and magnetic structures and excitations of materials as well as the relationship of these structures and excitations to the physical properties of materials.  Also supported is the study of fundamental dynamics in complex materials, correlated electron systems, nanostructures, and novel systems using advanced ultrafast spectroscopy, diffraction and microscopy. The emphasis is on using time-domain approaches to provide new understanding of complex behavior, emergent phenomena, and exotic properties in condensed matter. Another increasingly important aspect is the study of the nature of materials at the nanoscale including ordering fluctuations, and the structure and composition of inhomogeneities such as defects, interfaces, surfaces, and precipitates.

Advancing the state of the art of electron beam and scanning probe techniques and instrumentation for quantitative microscopy and microanalysis is an essential element in this portfolio.   The increasing complexity of energy-relevant materials such as superconductors, semiconductors, and magnets requires continuing development and improvement of next-generation x-ray and neutron scattering instrumentation for characterizing the atomic, electronic, and magnetic structures of these materials.   This includes a full range of elastic, inelastic, and imaging techniques as well as ancillary technologies such as novel detectors, sample environment, data analysis, and technology for producing polarized neutrons.


Ultrafast Materials Science

Program Leader:  Alessandra Lanzara
Co-PI's: Robert Kaindl, Joseph Orenstein

This program seeks to investigate the properties of strongly correlated materials by shining light onto them. Intense laser pulses have been used to restructure the free-energy landscape of these materials, and to generate rapid switching between the various forms of order deriving from the strong correlation. State of the art high harmonic generation photoemission spectroscopy and time- and spin- resolved photoemission spectroscopy systems have been developed. The future goal is to stimulate materials at selective excitations with higher intensity laser pulses to establish a mean for manipulation and control of materials properties.


M.C. Langner, S. Roy, S.K. Mishra, J.C.T. Lee, X.W. Shi, M.A. Hossain, Y.-D. Chuang, S. Seki, Y. Tokura, S.D. Kevan, and R. W. Schoenlein. Coupled skyrmion sublattices in Cu2OSeO3 revealed by resonant soft X-ray scattering. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 167202 (2014).

S.Y. Zhou, M.C. Langner, Y. Zhu, Y.-D. Chuang, M. Rini, T.E. Glover, M.P. Hertlein, A.G. Cruz Gonzalez, N. Tahir, Y. Tomioka, Y. Tokura, Z. Hussain, and R.W. Schoenlein. Glass-like recovery of antiferromagnetic spin ordering in a photo-excited manganite Pr0.7Ca0.3MnO3. Sci. Rep. 4, 4050 (2014).

G. Coslovich, B. Huber, W.-S. Lee, Y.-D. Chuang, Y. Zhu, T. Sasagawa, Z. Hussain, H. A. Bechtel, M.C. Martin, Z.-X. Shen, R.W. Schoenlein, and R.A. Kaindl. Ultrafast charge localization in a stripe-phase nickelate. Nature Communications 4, 2643 (2013).

J.D. Koralek, D. Meier, J.P. Hinton, A. Bauer, S.A. Paramswaran, A. Vishwanath, R. Ramesh, R.W. Schoenlein, C. Pfleiderer, and J. Orenstein. Observation of coherent helimagnons and Gilbert damping in an itinerant magnet. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 247204 (2012).


Soft Matter Electron Microscopy

Program Leader: Nitash Balsara
Co-PI's: Ken Downing, David Prendergast, Jeffrey Kortright, Andrew Minor, Ronald Zuckermann

Our objective is to reshape the way microscopy and scattering techniques are used to investigate structure, composition and transport properties of soft matter used in emerging clean energy-related applications including lithium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.  We are studying a wide array of materials ranging from sequence-specified bio-inspired polypeptoids to synthetic block copolymers made by anionic polymerization.  The proposed electron microscopy work focuses on determining the morphology of ion-containing nanostructures, maximizing spatial and energetic resolution while minimizing radiation exposure and damage.  This will be achieved by using novel techniques to manipulate and detect the incident, transmitted, and scattered electrons.  We pay particular attention to determination of both the "average" morphology and statistical fluctuations around the average; fluctuations are an essential property of soft matter. 

We have recently discovered unique tubular morphologies in peptoid block copolymers dissolved in water.  Energy-resolved soft X-ray scattering will be used to determine the local chemical environments around the ions.  The relationship between molecular structure, morphology, and ion transport on the mesoscale will be clarified by the use of polymer chains with precisely specified sequences and through the use of molecular simulations with validation through simulated characterization.  Included in this effort is the first theoretical attempt to quantify observed shifts in low loss electron energy loss spectra from first principles.


K.J. Harry, D.T. Hallinan, D.Y. Parkinson, A.A. MacDowell, and N.P. Balsara. Detection of Subsurface Structures Underneath Dendrites formed on Cycled Lithium Metal Electrodes. Nature Materials 13, 69-73 (2014).

F.I. Allen, P. Ercius, M.A. Modestino, R.A. Segalman, N.P. Balsara, and A.M. Minor. Deciphering the Three-Dimensional Morphology of Block Copolymer Thin Films by Transmission Electron Microscopy. Micron 44, 442-450 (2013).

P. Knychala, M. Dziecielski, M. Banaszak, and N.P. Balsara. Phase Behavior of Ionic Block Copolymers Studied by a Minimal Lattice Model with Short-Range Interactions. Macromolecules 46, 5724-5730 (2013).

J. Sun, A.A. Teran, X. Liao, N.P. Balsara, and R.N. Zuckermann. Nanoscale Phase Separation in Sequence-Defined Peptoid Diblock Copolymers. Journal of the American Chemical Society 135, 14119-14124 (2013).

J. Sung, G.M. Stone, N.P. Balsara, and R.N. Zuckermann, Structure-Conductivity Relationship for Peptoid-Based PEO-Mimetic Polymer Electrolytes. Macromolecules 45(12), 5151-5156 (2012).


Real Time TEM Imaging of Materials Transformations in Liquid and Gas Environments

Program Leader: Haimei Zheng

The study of physical and chemical processes of nanomaterials is critically important for energy harvesting and energy storage applications. By developing and applying in situ liquid environmental transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we image the dynamic materials processes in liquids with high spatial and temporal resolution while reaction proceeds. This project will develop environmental cell TEM and result in better understandings of growth and transformation of nanocrystals in catalysis and electrochemical processes.

Selected Publications:

Z. Zeng, W. Liang, H.G. Liao, H.L. Xin, Y.H. Chu, and H. Zheng. Visualization of electrode-electrolyte interfaces in LiPF6/EC/DEC electrolyte for lithium ion batteries via in-situ TEM. Nano Lett. 14, 1745 (2014).

H. L. Xin, S. Alayoglu, R. Tao, A. Genc, C. Wang, L. Kovarik, E. Stach, L -W. Wang, M. Salmeron, G. Somorjai, H. Zheng. Revealing the Atomic Restructuring of Pt-Co Nanoparticles. Nano Lett. nl500553a (2014).

H. Liao, L. Cui, S. Whitelam, and H. Zheng. Real time imaging Pt3Fe nanorod growth in solution. Science 336, 1011 (2012).