IFW Research Program



On the track of the unexplored

The IFW research program brings together the disciplines, methods and competences of the five IFW institutes. Despite its breadth and interdisciplinarity, all IFW research activities have in common that scientists are investigating still unresearched properties of matter with the aim of developing new functionalities and applications.

Three pillars of the triangle

Quantum Materials
... are solids showing peculiar quantum phenomena promissing for application.

Functional Materials
... are solids performing specific functions based on their physical and chemical properties.

Nanoscale Materials
... are substances and structures, of which a single unit in one or more dimensions is sized below 100 nanometers. 

 

Research Area 3:Quantum effects at the nanoscaleResearch Area 2:Functional through sizeResearch Area 1:Functional quantum materialsResearch Area 4:Towards productsQuantumMaterialsNanoscaleMaterialsFunctionalMaterials

Four Research Areas of IFW

The junction of the three fields  Quantum matter – Nanoscale materials – Functional materials is the unique feature of the IFW. Along the junctions of these fields we have defined three research areas where we cover the range from fundamentals to functionalities in a stragegic manner.
The forth Research Area binds together materials science research that is already at the borderline to prototypes or products.

 


	surface of a chip, violet illuminated in dark surroundling

Research Area 1

Functional quantum materials

Bulk materials with a potential functionality due to novel, unconventional electronic properties

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	micro-antenna made from flexible nanomembranes

Research Area 2

Function through size

Material properties arising from structural arrangements at the nanoscale, e.g. nanomembranes or nanostructured alloys

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	close look into a high vacuum chamber with complex device for smple movement and positioning

Research Area 3

Quantum effects at the nanoscale

New concepts and ideas for electronic or photonic devices based on quantum physics

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	a chip on a one cent coin

Research Area 4

Towards products

Targeted application oriented research. Research projects that are close to prototypes and products.

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Research Area 1

Functional quantum materials

Research area 1 is focused on bulk materials in which a potential for applications emerges from their complex, quantum mechanical electronic properties. These electronic properties can

  • result from a complex interplay and ordering of electronic spin, orbital, charge and lattice degrees of freedom,
  • emerge in a more general sense from the presence of strong electronic correlations,
  • appear through competing or strongly frustrated magnetic interactions, or
  • be observed in the context of topologically protected spin and charge states.

These physical material's properties manifest themselves in a number of material classes: in certain families of transition-metal oxides, in molecular solids and in a range of intermetallic materials. What sets these systems apart is that their valence and conduction electrons typically retain to some extend their atomic character, resulting in a rich interplay of localised and delocalised electronic degrees of freedom. This renders these materials both practically and conceptually very different from simple metals and semiconductors with well-understood itinerant quasi-particles. Often the quantum mechanical interplay between the localised and delocalised electronic degrees of freedom leads to anomalous charge transport properties, for instance due to the presence of metal-insulator transitions, and exceptional types of ordering phenomena, such as unconventional forms of superconductivity and quantum magnetism. Functionalities that arise from this are for instance large magnetocaloric effects, high temperature superconductivity, magnetism with very strong anisotropy and colossal/giant magnetoresistance.

Research Topics in Research Area 1 "Functional Quantum Materials"

1.1          Exotic ground states and low-energy excitations in bulk systems
1.2          Unconventional superconductivity: Mechanisms, materials & applications
1.3          Magnetic materials for energy
1.4          Engineering magnetic microtextures

 

Research Area 2

Function through size

The functionality of a material decisively depends on size and interfaces, and this in turn defines the application area the material will be used for. The research area relies on the expertise of an interdisciplinary team of materials and electrical engineers, physicists and chemists and deals with the unique mechanical and functional properties of materials as they or their constituents change from macro-, to micro- and nanoscopic sizes. Activities cover bulk functional materials with potential applications as light weight structural components and high strength tools as well as elastic nanomembrane materials which will be exploited in conceptually new generations of flexible and compact on- and off-chip devices. Shape, size and interfaces also determine the fundamental properties of nanomagnets, which may find use in magnetic probes and data storage elements. We also address the improvement of new thermoelectric materials, e.g. special alloys, and the various capabilities of nanostructuring show enhanced efficiency and promise new applications. All research efforts are cross-linked by common methodological approaches and interests, which shed light on the structure, chemical composition and physical properties of materials at different length scales.

Research Topics in Research Area 2 "Function through size"

2.1          Solidification and non-equilibrium phases
2.2          Multifunctional inorganic nanomembranes
2.3          Micromotors & drug delivery
2.4          Thermoelectric materials

 

Research Area 3

Quantum effects at the nanoscale

In this Research Area we address materials and structures with quantum mechanical effects that are due to their nanoscale. These are very thin films, surfaces and interfaces, so called heterostructures formed by thin films of different composition, quantum dots, photonic crystals and molecular nanostructures like fullerenes, conducting polymers and organic semiconductors.
In the field of nanophotonic the research work at IFW aims to explore several long-standing questions and challenges. Our work approaches fundamental topics: such as the generation of single photons and entangled photon pairs with semiconductor nanomaterials, the strong light-matter interactions in the quantum regime.  More applied questions concern the fabrication of advanced photonic devices such as quantum light emitting diodes, rolled-up optical microcavities and 3D photonic crystals. When combined together, this multifaceted research could enable the realization of complex photonic functionalities with an integrated opto-electronic platform.
At the nanoscale also entirely new physical properties may emerge, for instance at surfaces and interfaces of topological insulators where the spin of surface electrons is locked to their momentum, a property that is interesting in the context of spintronics. Work at the IFW Dresden in this area is a nice example of a very interdisciplinary research effort, combining the available experimental and theoretical expertise to investigate topologically protected surface states and transport properties, again combining synthesis, theory and experiment.

Research Topics in Research Area 3 "Quantum effects at the nanoscale"

3.1          2D Systems and heterointerfaces
3.2          Quantum and nano-photonics
3.3          Functional molecular nanostructures and interfaces
3.4          Topological states of matter

Research Area 4

Towards Products

This research area comprises materials whose physical, mechanical and chemical properties are to be optimized with respect to certain applications, prototypes and products. Usually this is achieved in close cooperation with partners from industry. In the case that scientific results are of economic importance intellectual property rights are secured. A large number of national and international patents and a high degree of licensing indicate their practical relevance .
A typical example are surface acoustic waves components. These are used in sensors and as frequency filters for the channel selection in signal transition. They consist of a piezo-electric single crystal chip which transforms electric signals in acoustic ones and back. The IFW has contributed a number of innovations in this field, for example a considerable improvement of temperature stability and of electromechanical excitation by a special thin film material.
Further projects in this research area concern materials for bio-medical applications, alloys for high-strength materials, nanomembranes for flexible electronic devices and demonstrators for the application of high-temperature superconductors.

ResearchTopic in Research Area 4 "Towards products"

4.1          Surface acoustic waves: Concepts, materials & applications
4.2          Materials for energy storage
4.3          High strength and biocompatible alloys
4.4          FlexMag: Development centre for flexible magnetoelectronic devices
4.5          Concepts and materials for superconducting applications

Quantum Materials

Quantum materials are solids showing peculiar quantum phenomena related to unconventional spin interactions, electronic correlations, electron-photon interactions and/or topological bandstructures. Examples are superconductivity and magnetism. Quantum effects have also a strong influence in materials with spatial extension constraint to the nanometer scale, like nanoparticles, thin films or nanotubes.

Functional Materials

Functional materials exhibit special physical, mechanical or chemical properties which enable them to fulfil a specific function in devices, e.g. conducting electric current, filter acoustic waves of a certain frequency, shielding magnetic fields or storing energy.

Nanoscale Materials

Nanoscale materials are solids or structures whose length scale comes in one or more dimensions to 100 nanometers or less. This can change their physical and chemical properties a lot and opens up space for new functionalities. In this context molecular nanostructures, inorganic nanomembranes, nanoparticles, nanocrystalline alloys and lithographically prepared nanostructures are studied at the IFW Dresden.