This MagLab user talks about meeting Leonardo da Vinci, making magnetic soup and the freedom of being a scientist.

Researchers discover that Sr1-yMn1-zSb2 (y,z < 0.1) is a so-called Weyl material that holds great promise for building devices that require far less power.

This finding sheds light on the role of quasiparticle mass enhancement near a quantum critical point in one of the leading families of high-temperature superconductors.

Discovery could help scientists better understand exotic behaviors of electrons.

The finding in fullerides opens a new way of exploring the role electron interactions play in high-temperature superconductivity

Scientists discovered how to tune the optical properties of atomically-thin semiconductors, which will aid the design of future microscopic light sensors.

This week at the lab, we're preparing a home for a new magnet that will give more scientists access to some of the highest magnetic fields in the world.

The new Duplex Magnet, slated for completion this fall at the Pulsed Field Facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico, will reach fields up to 80 teslas, although it will most often run at 75 teslas to extend its lifetime. Like the other instruments available at the Pulsed Field Facility, the Duplex will generate these incredibly high fields for just a fraction of a second — still ample time for physicists to get valuable data.

But unlike the facility’s other magnets, the Duplex features two coils that will be powered by separate circuits and capacitors. This design helps operators better manage the temperature and stress the instrument is subjected to and allows for flexibility in future improvements.

The Duplex will be located near the facility’s primary workhorse, the 65 Tesla Multi-Shot Magnet. Featuring the same 15-millimeter bore for inserting experiments, it will enable more scientists to do cutting-edge experiments in these extreme fields.


Photo by Stephen Bilenky. Text by Kristen Coyne.

Scientists discovered how strong of a magnetic field was necessary to suppress superconductivity in a thin film of iron-selenium.

Scientists begin to fill in the blanks on transition metal dichalcogenides.

This week at the lab, a MagLab physicist is developing a measurement technique that will help scientists identify and understand new states of matter in a new class of metals analogous to graphene.

The MagLab offers dozens of measurement techniques to scientists — everything from AC magnetic susceptibility to ultrafast magneto-optics. Brad Ramshaw of the MagLab's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, is modernizing a technique called pulsed echo ultrasound.

If you yell across a valley to a canyon on the other side, you can figure out how far it is by measuring the time between your holler and the echo it generates. "That's what pulsed echo ultrasound is, except we're not doing it in the canyon," explained Ramshaw, whose project is funded by a two-year, $430,000 grant from LANL. "We're taking a little piece of material and we're yelling at it."

The twist is that instead of measuring distance (they already know the length of the material), they are measuring the speed at which the sound travels, which differs depending on the material, magnetic field and temperature. This data can shed light on the physics happening inside the material.

Of course, it's a little more complex than shouting across a canyon, Ramshaw explained. "We have an ultrasonic transducer — like the ones used for ultrasound imaging in a hospital, but much smaller — that sends a pulse of sound at the material. Then the sound travels across it, bounces off the end and comes back to the transducer."

It's no coincidence that Ramshaw is developing the technique at the Pulsed Field Facility, which houses instruments that create brief pulses of magnetic fields (measured in milliseconds) as strong as 100 tesla, the strongest such magnets in the world.

Fields that high, used in concert with this technique, are expected to reveal new physics about Weyl metals, which can be thought of as three-dimensional analogs of graphene. A one-atom thick compound with exciting properties — incredible strength, flexibility and electrical and heat conductivity — graphene holds great promise for communications, transportation and other industries. The hope is that Weyl metals will hold similar promise for electronics applications, but will be easier to manipulate and manufacture.

Scientists have been aggressively studying graphene since they learned how to make it in 2004. The technique Ramshaw is developing will open a new playground for physicists to explore its 3-D analog, including the unusual way its electrons behave, as if they had no mass.

The Pulsed Field Facility's world-record fields are, " … enough to do crazy electronic things to these materials," said Ramshaw. "This is a capability that users want and we now have the resources to develop it."


Text by Kristen Coyne

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