In the Cava lab, we study the relationships between chemistry, crystal structure, and electronic and magnetic properties of non-molecular solids
Topological Insulators and Dirac Semimetals
Topological insulators are a newly-discovered phase of matter in which the bulk material is semiconducting, but the surface contains electrons that are chiral, massless, and conduct electricity as though they were metals. Dirac semimetals are compounds where similar exotic electrons may exist within the bulk solid.
Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with zero resistance below their critical temperature. Our group consistently discovers one or two superconductors per year, focusing in the areas of intermetallics, oxides, chalcogenides, pnictides, and compounds with interesting anisotropic crystal structures, metal-insulator transitions, and/or unusual magnetic properties.
Transition metals with unpaired d or f electrons often try to align in a magnetically-ordered fashion at low temperatures, but sometimes the geometry makes this impossible and renders them magnetically “frustrated”. Such geometries are often low-dimensional and include chains, ladders made from parallel chains, or triangles (like the Kagome net or hexagonal net).
The thermoelectric effect describes the ability of a material to convert between a thermal gradient and electric voltage. Thermoelectrics have two main applications: i.e., to generate electricity from waste heat or build solid-state refrigerators for cooling. Our lab focuses on cooling applications and searches for new materials that display an enhanced thermoelectric effect due to exotic electronic and magnetic properties.