Research in the Condensed Matter Division focuses on a theoretical and experimental investigation of the structure and physical properties of solids, particularly electric, magnetic, mechanical and optical. Our aim is to develop new tailor-made structural and functional materials for novel industrial applications.
Although we primarily focus on physical processes in solids, such as electronic, structural and phase transformations, or on the interaction of solids with electromagnetic radiation, our research has significant outreach into materials science, engineering, energy applications, robotics or medicine with enormous societal impacts.
Thanks to the recently installed experimental equipment for materials characterization and manipulation of materials nanostructure, we are now able to investigate materials down to the nanoscale. Following the modern trends and needs of the society, our research has become highly interdisciplinary and its results become increasingly exploited in applications, such as tuning of functional properties of superelastic NiTi or development of biodegradable metals for applications in medical devices or development of technology for diamond anticorrosion coatings for nuclear fuel cladding.
The research in the Division is organized in 6 research departments containing 12 research groups, 7 central laboratories and 2 joint laboratories.
In the area of material physics, we study mainly multiferroic, piezoelectric and spintronic materials, liquid crystals, nanostructured metals and alloys, shape memory alloys and composites, magnetic Heusler materials and nanodiamond coatings. We analyze these materials experimentally and theoretically from the macroscale down to the atomic and electronic scales. We investigate physical processes in these materials with the aim to develop new materials with unique properties and functions derived from their nanostructure and from the newly obtained knowledge on the physical processes involved.
Theoretical research focuses on electronic and crystalline structures of solids with special attention paid to their mutual relations, including changes brought about by structural, magnetic and ferroelectric phase transitions. At the same time, we study optical properties of crystals and charge transport in inhomogeneous media including fast transient phenomena.
The division operates modern mechanical testing facility for smart materials research and dedicated laboratories for dielectric, infrared, Raman, terahertz and Mössbauer spectroscopies. Regarding technologies for materials preparation, we make advanced alloys by casting and powder metallurgy technologies, we grow large metallic single crystals and crystals for applications in optics, we prepare organic liquid crystals and we also grow thin films and coatings by CVD (nanodiamond) and PVD (metal complexes) techniques.
The research within the Division heavily relies on the work of central laboratories that provide research services to the research teams from the whole FZU, as well as to external users. Researchers in the central laboratories operate highly specialized modern experimental equipment for materials characterization and physical property evaluation with high exploitation potential requiring special and continuously upgraded operator skills and mastering of new methods. Current methods in central laboratories include: scanning and transmission electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, spectroscopic and chromatographic methods for evaluation of chemical composition, analytical chemistry methods, and measurements of magnetic and other properties of solids in extremely wide temperature range. Central laboratories within the Division enable efficient operation of the expensive experimental equipment, facilitate fast development and implementation of novel sophisticated experimental methods and provide equal access of FZU researchers to these equipment and methods.