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Advancing our understanding of complex quantum systems

Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems

Uncharted ground in condensed matter physics offers immense opportunity.

At a time when many scientific organizations are challenged by shrinking budgets, we are focusing $90 million over a five-year period to explore the exotic and unexpected properties of a broad class of systems termed quantum materials. Our new Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) Initiative will help scientists understand quantum materials in new ways and pave the way to potentially world-changing technological applications.

In the field of condensed matter physics, quantum materials present largely uncharted ground for study and immense opportunity for discovery. Quantum materials are substances that become endowed with unusual properties or “emergent phenomena”—such as superconductivity, forms of magnetism and other electronic qualities—when subjected to extreme temperature and pressure. These phenomena often elude prediction, even when properties of the individual particles that constitute these materials are well understood. In the same way, knowing the properties of a water molecule or a sand particle doesn’t allow for predictions about emanating ripples from a drop of water, or dunes arising from aggregated pieces of sand. 

Now, with advances in theory, nanotechnology and quantum control of matter, fresh opportunities have surfaced for examining emergent properties of quantum materials. At the same time, the disbanding of industrial research labs that had given scientists the resources and freedom to pursue discovery-driven research has left a large funding gap. We are working to fill that hole in a targeted way, by establishing an integrated research program of experiment, materials synthesis and theory.   

To fuel discovery and conceptual breakthroughs, the EPiQS Initiative will support:

  • Top experimentalists and centers for theory to enable current and emerging leaders in experiment and theory to maximize their creativity
  • Materials synthesis to bolster the artistry of creating new/better quantum materials while improving career paths for scientists
  • Instrumentation acquisition and development to advance lab capabilities at leading institutions
  • High-risk projects to enable timely responses to new discoveries and development of new concepts
  • Community building activities that create and sustain a vibrant research network to promote the exchange of ideas and materials

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Frequently Asked Questions


Recent Grants

$1,700,000.00 Aug 2014 Paul Canfield Materials Synthesis Investigator Award Iowa State University, Department of Physics & Astronomy
$1,700,000.00 Aug 2014 Ian Fisher Materials Synthesis Investigator Award Stanford University, Department of Applied Physics
More Grants
Courtesy of Kathryn Moler, Stanford