Condensed Matter Physics, Materials Physics, Photonics, and Quantum Information

In condensed matter physics (CMP), we study the unique and often surprising manifestations of quantum mechanics on the physical properties of matter. Examples of physical systems which can be studied include semiconductor devices, superconductors, ultra-cold atoms,  and nano-magnetic elements. The field covers fundamental and applied physics, and propels modern technologies such as spintronics, photonics, and quantum information. It also encompasses the study of novel materials and their properties. 

Condensed matter research offers students a comprehensive education in all aspects of physics research, theoretical or experimental. The tools we use range from equipment also found in chemistry and engineering labs to mathematical theories also used in particle physics research. From conceiving an experiment or a theoretical model; to designing the experimental setup; to creating the samples you wish to study; to performing the measurements or the calculations and finally writing up the results. Collaborations in CMP are typically small (although CMP groups can be large), giving students a great deal of recognition for their work.

Students will benefit from experience in a quantum physics course when beginning their research with condensed matter groups. Due to the complexity of the problems we solve, and the need for accuracy, we also sometimes use computational solutions.

Our experimental research at UVic focuses on the ultrafast dynamics of magnetic systems and their interaction with light, on electron microscopy, and on creating and manipulating the quantum states of light and matter in dilute atomic systems. Experimental studies are performed using a variety of techniques, including time-resolved scanning Kerr microscopy, Faraday rotation, advanced electron microscopy, optical homodyne detection, and single photon level quantum state tomography. Experiments can be carried out at room temperature on a standard optical table, down to almost absolute zero and in magnetic fields as high as 7 Tesla. Our electron microscopes have the highest speed detectors in the world.

Our major facilities include a nanofabrication facility, advanced microscopy facility, magneto-optic cryostat, and a plethora of lasers including Ti/sapphire oscillators and a 100 kHz regenerative amplifier. We also design narrow-band, high-quality lasers in house for experiments in quantum photonics.

Our theoretical condensed matter research focuses on the properties of quantum mechanics to make new types of quantum computers and quantum sensors. The scope ranges from theories of noise and decoherence of quantum hardware to the development of novel quantum and classical algorithms to simulate molecules and materials. We develop and apply new algorithms to cases of interest in a variety of problems, including strongly-correlated quantum matter. 

Our groups have access to the Digital Research Alliance (formerly Compute Canada) where we run large-scale computational projects that relate to the theory we study. Our students also have access to noisy-intermediate-scale quantum computers through CMC Microsystems.

Faculty in the CMP group interact closely with groups in the Departments of Chemistry and Electrical Engineering, and with faculty across campus through the Centre for Advanced Materials and Related Technology (CAMTEC). Faculty supervising physics graduate students in condensed matter, materials physics, photonics, and quantum information:

Dr. T.E. Baker -  Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics and Quantum Computation
Dr. A. Blackburn - Advanced electron microscopy
Dr. A. Brolo - Nanomaterials and laser spectroscopy
Dr. B.C. Choi - Nanomagnetism and Spintronics
Dr. R. de Sousa - Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics and Quantum Computation
Dr. R. Gordon - Nanoplasmonics, quantum emitters, single molecule biophysics
Dr. T. Junginger - Superconductors for radio-frequency particle accelerators
Dr. P. Loock - Laser physics, instrument design and (micro-)analytical chemistry
Dr. A. MacRae - Quantum optics