Are you accepting new students?
Maybe. I plan to accept 0-1 new M. Sc. or Ph. D. students for Fall 2021 admission cycle. Regarding the research opportunities for undergraduate students, please come and talk to me about the possibilities. In general, there will be research opportunities during the summer.
What kind of research topics will I be working on?
We are currently working on the following topics:
- Electronic and magnetic excitations in honeycomb lattice Kitaev quantum spin liquids (B. Lebert)
- Magnetic excitations in novel quantum magnets (B. Yuan)
- Crystal and electronic structure of 2D quantum materials (S. Kim)
- Lattice dynamics and local structure of thermoelectric materials (S. Jain)
- Magnetostructural effects in itinerant magnetic systems (F. Frontini)
New students tend to start working on the existing research topics with senior students. Our research program is highly collaborative, and students travel together to the x-ray and neutron beamlines to obtain data. Once new students have enough experience, they take on their own research projects. For more detailed update and information please contact Prof. Kim directly.
What is the main experimental tool in your research?
We are interested in many physical properties of condensed matter systems. Therefore, we are engaged in many different aspects of new materials research, including materials synthesis, characterization of magnetic, structural, and optical properties. However, our main experimental tool is neutron and x-ray scattering. These scattering techniques are well suited to studying microscopic properties, such as electron charge and spin correlations in complex materials. For more detailed description of scattering techniques, please see the research tools page.
Where do you carry out the x-ray and neutron scattering experiments?
Since modern scattering experiments require very bright photon/neutron beams, most of our experimental activities happen at large national and international facilities. For x-ray scattering, we mainly use the Advanced Photon Source near Chicago and the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon. For neutron scattering, we mainly use the new Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge and NIST Center for Neuton Research. Occasionally, we also carry out experiments at facilities in Europe. However, recently we have acquired advanced x-ray diffraction and spectroscopy instruments, which allows us to reduce the need for travel. Some projects are now carried out using the in-house equipment.
Why do I want to learn neutron and/or x-ray scattering techniques?
Scattering is an extremely powerful probe for microscopic understanding of condensed matter systems, and indispensable tool for any materials research. As a result, scatterer (physicist who do scattering experiments) are highly sought after by many academic and nonacademic employers. In addition, a PhD in scattering is a stepping stone towards enormously diverse science being done at synchrotron and neutron facilities, ranging from atomic physics, materials science, biophysics, protein crystallography, environmental science, and so on. You will also meet many scientists working on different topics at these facilities. Most of all, this (early part of 21st century) is shaping up to be a great time for x-ray and neutron researchers. As more countries are realizing the value of synchrotrons for scientific research, many medium sized synchrotrons have popped up all over the world in the last decade, including Canadian Light Source. There are now 15-20 such medium to large synchrotrons around the world (i.e., many jobs…).
How long will I be away from Toronto?
Although we carry out many experiments at these synchrotron and neutron facilities, actual time we spend at these places are rather short. Usually, you can expect to make about 1-2 week long trips every 2-3 months. In between these experimental trips, we are quite busy in our UofT lab (McLennan building basement) preparing the sample, analyzing data, and taking some more data using our in-house equipment.
What kind of sample preparation do you do?
We have well-equipped crystal growth facilities, which include many electrical furnaces as well as an optical image furnace. Using various furnaces, we usually grow single crystal samples of interest, and then optimize them through cutting, polishing, and annealing. These samples have to be characterized using various methods. SQUID magnetometer is used to study magnetic properties; In-house x-ray diffractometer is used to study structural properties. We recently purchased a cryogen-free PPMS, which is an extremely valuable instrument for studying physical properties.
How long does it take to graduate in your group?
There is no set time frame, since it depends a great deal on individual abilities. However, normally it will take 5-6 years including the time spent during the MSc program.