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Colloquium: Physics & Astronomy – Dr. Shixiong Zhang

About the event

The Department of Physics and Astronomy invites all to a colloquium featuring Dr. Shixiong Zhang, Department of Physics, Indiana University. Dr. Zhang will present his talk, “Controlled Synthesis and Emergent Properties of Novel Materials with Strong Spin-Orbit Coupling.”

Meet for refreshments before the lecture at 3:45 – 4:10 p.m. in the foyer on floor G above the lecture hall.

Spin-orbit coupling (SOC) is a relativistic interaction between a particle’s spin and its motion. In most of the solid state physics textbooks, SOC is considered only a small perturbation to the electronic band structures of solid materials. The recent discovery of topological insulators, however, has manifested a key role of SOC in topologically non-trivial states. Since this interaction increases as the fourth power of the atomic number, topological electronic states are observed often in materials composed of heavy atoms.
In this talk, I will discuss our recent work on two classes of such “heavy materials”, namely chalcogenides and iridates that host exotic states driven by strong SOC. For the chalcogenides, I will present controlled growth of one-dimensional nanowires and their enhanced thermoelectric properties which may be associated with non-trivial surface states. For the iridates, I will focus on the synthesis of bulk crystals and pulsed laser deposition of thin films. I will further discuss their unusual magnetic and electrical properties arising from the interplay of SOC, electron correlation, and geometrical frustration.