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Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed-matter physics is demographically and technologically at the center of the enterprise of physics, but for various reasons it has been under-represented in the advanced-laboratory curriculum. This Immersion aims at correcting that, by introducing participants to a laboratory package that enables users to conduct electrical, magnetic, and thermal experiments on solid-state samples. Participants will operate a cryostat system enabling temperature measurement and control in the 80 – 350 K region, in the process also acquiring skills in up-to-date vacuum technology. They will also perform first experiments in three physics areas:

  1. Electrical transport, for resistivity and Hall-effect measurements in semiconductors;
  2. Magnetic susceptibility, for inferring ‘spin content’ from Curie-Law paramagnetism (and its exceptions);
  3. Specific Heat, for contrasting Debye with Dulong-Petit behavior, and/or detecting phase transitions.
Photo of cryostat

Figure 1: Picture of the cryostat.

Because of the multiplicity of techniques and experiments covered, this Immersion will fill 5 working days (10-14 July, inclusive). Participants will assemble and operate a modern vacuum system; they’ll learn safe handling of liquid nitrogen as a cryogen, and learn temperature servo-control in a cryostat. They will also learn how to mount, connect, test, and operate each of three classic condensed-matter experiments.

Interior of cryostat

Figure 2: Interior of the cryostat. The dewar has been removed and the cryostat turned on its side.

Participants need only bring a favorite laptop or tablet. They’ll be working on TeachSpin’s new CMP package, which (in its entirety) costs about $36,000.