Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation boosts ultra-fast quantum materials research at UBC

The state-of-the-art, ultrafast laser made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Source: UBC Science.

Researchers at UBC will be able to probe the mysteries of quantum materials with a new state-of-the-art ultrafast laser, thanks to a $1.4 million US grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

UBC physicists Andrea Damascelli and David Jones will use the investment for a one-of-a-kind instrument. It combines a table-top laser that generates ultra-fast flashes of ultraviolet light with a photoelectron spectrometer, a state-of-the-art detector that can probe the motion of electrons in quantum materials.

“This grant enhances UBC’s standing as a world-leading centre for quantum materials research,” said John Hepburn, UBC vice-president, research and international. “This instrument will advance our basic understanding of quantum matter, and move us ever closer to unlocking the incredible potential of new materials to transform our daily lives.”

The instrument will generate femtosecond — one millionth of one billionth of a second (or 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 second) — snapshots of electrons moving inside a range of novel magnets, high-temperature superconductors, and other promising quantum materials.

“This combination of state-of-the-art technologies will enable us to conduct experiments that condensed matter physicists around the world have yearned to perform, but which have remained out of reach with existing instrumentation,” said Damascelli, a professor with the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“In order to disentangle all relevant electronic interactions within these materials, we require extremely fine-grained measurements of their corresponding timescales.”

UBC is the first Canadian recipient under the Foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) Initiative.

More details about the grant can be found here.


About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of environmental conservation, patient care and science. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit us at moore.org or follow us @moorefound.

About quantum materials research at UBC
UBC has assembled a strong cluster of research scientists who study quantum structures, quantum materials, and applications for quantum devices. They are supported by strong international collaborations including a formal agreement with the Max Planck Society of Germany. Research topics include transition metal oxides, topological insulators, unconventional superconductors, oxide heterostructures, engineered optical materials and devices at the nanoscale, and many-body electronic structure of solid, surfaces, and interfaces

About quantum materials
Quantum materials (QM) exhibit a wide range of astonishing electronic and magnetic phenomena that embody the central questions challenging the field of condensed matter physics. The recent advance of femtosecond (fs) laser sources into the ultraviolet region has ushered in a new era in the field. Ultrashort light pulses are also emerging as a unique tool for achieving the all-optical manipulation of the electronic properties of QM on time scales of 10-100 fs, pointing the way toward next-generation ultrafast electronic devices that could switch four orders of magnitude faster than current semiconductor-based devices.

“In order to disentangle all relevant electronic interactions within these materials, we require extremely fine-grained measurements of their corresponding timescales.”

Alex Walls
Media Relations Specialist, UBC Media Relations