Robert Maddin Lecture in Materials Science: "Finding New Electronic Materials"

Robert J. Cava (Princeton)
| The Glandt Forum
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology

“New materials give new properties” is a phrase that I think best describes the goal of our research program. We find new materials by thinking about how the chemistry and structures of materials at the level of the atoms and the unit cell might determine the electronic and magnetic properties of matter, and, although we are usually wrong in our guesses, we are occasionally right and do sometimes find new materials that are interesting. This would all be easier if there was a way to proceed in a straightforward fashion from predicting the stability of an unknown non-molecular solid, predicting what its properties would be, and then making and testing it, but unfortunately that is not the case. Our discussions with experimental and theoretical physicists teach us about issues in the electronic and magnetic properties of matter that might be addressed through the introduction of new materials, and our life in a chemistry department teaches us how to think about structure and bonding; our work is about putting two and two together to get 4. In this talk I will describe some of our recent results in several new materials areas, ranging from new superconductors and geometrically frustrated magnets to Topological Insulators and Dirac Semimetals.