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Elucidating the physical processes that produce the properties of emergent and exotic materials.

Research in the Materials Structural Dynamics Laboratory (MSDL) strives to uncover the fundamental physical processes that lead to useful properties in emerging materials. New materials with useful and exotic properties remain necessary for the development of next generation technologies in electronics, photonics, and information science. The discovery of new materials also means the development and use of tools to explore the physical mechanisms from which their properties derive. Student and postdoctoral researchers in the MSDL will use experimental, theoretical, and computational methods to tackle problems that span the fields of chemistry, physics, materials science, and optics to connect physical mechanisms to material properties.

 

Our approach in the MSDL is founded on understanding material structure-property relationships through the lens of vibrational spectroscopy. In particular, we design, develop, and deploy vibrational spectroscopic techniques based on pulses of laser light whose durations are less than 1 tenth of 1 trillionth of a second (100 femtoseconds). Light pulses this short possess peak intensities that drive multiple photon-material interactions and give rise to the nonlinear optical properties of materials. In the MSDL, we will use these nonlinear optical interactions to produce new wavelengths of light, induce quantum coherent vibrational evolution, and watch the ultrafast dynamics of photo-excited material systems.

Ultrafast dynamics of a vibrational coherence whose frequency shifts following Raman-pumping lattice modes, indicating such an excitation drives intermolecular charge transfer.

This is a schematic showing the principles of vibrational coherence spectroscopy, one of the techniques we use to study electron-phonon coupling in materials.

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