Shoemaker Lab Tour
From Steph Adams
Our group focuses on synthesizing new inorganic materials and uncovering routes to engineer their response to electronic, magnetic, and chemical stimuli. Understanding synthesis allows us to use chemistry to tune, alter, or reassemble materials. We grow single crystals, microstructured composites, and nanomaterials, and make heavy use of electronic, magnetic, and optical measurements. Current research topics include:
In situ synthesis: Many arenas of energy conversion, such as light absorbers, batteries, and catalysis, are limited by the library of viable materials. We use special growth cells to observe metastable synthesis reactions as they happen in the solid, liquid, and gas phase. These reactions produce new compounds that are inaccessible from a traditional approach based on equilibrium phase diagrams. X-ray diffraction and optical spectroscopy can reveal how compounds form and identify new materials on the fly. We also develop computational tools to handle the complex data collected during any given experiment.
Micro- and nano-structured magnetism: Performance of magnetic materials is dictated by complex interactions on multiple length scales, from micron-sized domains to the angstrom-level exchange interactions between atoms. We synthesize magnetic materials and develop tools for characterizing and modeling their defects, inclusions, and microstructure. Understanding these relationships allows us to refine our syntheses, improve performance, and uncover new candidate materials.
Structure and dynamics of correlated materials: During our investigations of superconductors, dielectrics, and phase-change materials, intriguing physical phenomena arise when materials deviate from their ideal structure due to formation of defects or disordered domains. We conduct high-energy X-ray and neutron scattering experiments at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory and the Lujan Neutron Scattering Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Scattering and spectroscopy allow us to reconstruct structural snapshots of disordered materials and understand how chemical bonding dictates magnetic and electronic properties.