Magnetic resonance and dielectric spectroscopy of novel "smart" materials
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The research program is conducted by the research group for nuclear magnetic resonance and dielectric spectroscopy of the Condensed Matter Physics Department at the Jožef Stefan Institute, under the leadership of prof. dr. Janez Dolinšek. Smart materials possess superior structural, physical, chemical and mechanical properties that are not present in conventional materials. An example is a combination of an electrical conductor with a thermal insulator and a combination of hardness, elasticity and anomalously low friction coefficient. Some smart materials exhibit thermal memory phenomenon, enabling thermal inscription of a byte of digital information by pure thermal manipulation of the material, in the absence of an external electric, magnetic or electromagnetic field. In materials know as magnetoelectrics, electrical and magnetic properties are coupled, so that one is able to control their magnetic properties by an external electric field and vice versa. The research is directed towards the synthesis, characterization and understanding the physical properties at the atomistic level of materials from the families of quasicrystals, complex metallic alloys, metallic glasses, multiferroic materials, nanomaterials and nanocomposites, frustrated magnetic systems, ferroelectric thin films, liquid crystals, carbon-based fullerene derivatives, heavy-fermion conductors, unconventional superconductors and materials with giant electrocaloric and thermoelastic response. We are using experimental methods of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, measurements of the electrical conductivity, thermoelectric power, Hall coefficient, thermal conductivity and specific heat, frequency-dependent high-resolution calorimetry, linear and nonlinear dielectric spectroscopy and magnetic measurements. An important scientific breakthrough of our group was the introduction of a novel concept of digital data storage in materials known as complex metallic alloys, where we were able to store arbitrary ASCII characters that present text in computers by pure thermal manipulation. The discovery shows potential to open a new field of digital information technology, called the thermal computing, where mathematical operations are performed by pure thermal manipulation of the material, in the absence of an electric or a magnetic field.
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