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The solid, liquid and gaseous state of matter are a common knowledge. However, the number of different states in which materials may exist is in principle unlimited. One of the prime goal of condensed matter physics is to understand the properties of these states and to predict the transitions between them. Jan Kuneš from the Department of condensed matter theory of the Institute of Physics CAS was awarded a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant to study exotic states of new magnetic materials.

A state-of-the-art laser facility currently under construction in Prague is on the road to becoming one of Europe’s Centres of Excellence, thanks to a new partnership project with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The Czech Institute of Physics’ HiLASE facility and the UK’s STFC Central Laser Facility (CLF) have been awarded around €500,000 in the first phase of funding for a new Teaming initiative under the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme.

Over the past two decades, the research of ferromagnetic semiconductors, with (Ga,Mn)As as a prime example, has led to a deeper understanding of relativistic spin-dependent phenomena in magnetic systems. It has also led to discoveries of new effects and demonstrations of unprecedented functionalities in experimental micro-electronic and opto-electronic devices. Researchers from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences in Prague, in collaboration with researchers from the Charles University in Prague and from the UK, have published a comprehensive review of this active field of condensed matter physics

Current information technologies are either charge-based or spin-based. Semiconductor microprocessors are prime examples among the large variety of charge-based devices. They utilize the possibility offered by semiconductors to easily electrically manipulate and detect their electronic charge states representing the zeros and ones. Spin-based devices operate on an entirely distinct principle. In some materials, like iron, electron spins spontaneously align their direction which generates magnetism.

Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic has begun implementation of the Centre of functional materials for bio-applications (FUNBIO). This project is supported within 11th call of the OPPK (Operational Programme Prague Competitiveness) structural funds of the European Commission, which significantly complements the current project Centre for Analysis of Functional Materials (SAFMAT).

Importance and impact of methods and techniques developed for studying physical problems has outreached the realm of natural sciences. Methods of quantum physics and statistical mechanics find more and more applications in biology, economy, informatics, or sociology. Physics has become one of the most important components of a number of new interdisciplinary research fields. Econophysics utilises methods of statistical mechanics and theory of phase transitions to model and understand processes in economy and financial markets.

Current technologies for writing, storing, and reading information are either charge-based or spin-based. Semiconductor flash or random access memories are prime examples among the large variety of charge-based devices. They utilize the possibility offered by semiconductors to easily electrically manipulate and detect their electronic charge states representing the “zeros” and “ones”. The downside is that weak perturbations such as impurities, temperature change, or radiation can lead to uncontrolled charge redistributions and, as a consequence, to data loss.

In ferromagnetic materials, information can be stored in “zeros” and “ones” defined by the orientation of magnetic moments, which can be pictured as small compasses (see Fig. 1a). This technology is behind a range of memory applications from kilobyte magnetic stripe cards to terabyte computer hard disks. It is dangerous to place a parking ticket or a hard disk next to another magnet or device generating strong magnetic fields because the magnetic moments of the memory can be unintentionally reoriented and the information lost

Scientists from the Institute of Physics of the ASCR, together with colleagues from Spain and France presented in the journal Nature Communications new theory of the origin of polyaromatic hydrocarbon molecules in the universe. According to the new theory, these molecules are formed by hydrogen etching of the graphitic surface of the stardust particles.

Scientists from Institute of Physics ASCR contributed to development of a new approach to preparation of highly tunable microwave dielectrics exploring Srn+1TinO3n+1 with layered perovskite crystal structure. This material has in the form of 50 nm thin films and under mechanical strain excellent dielectric properties, which are promising for applications in microwave electronics, e.g. in cellular phones.

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