Oct. 18, 2001
Vol. 21 No. 3

current issue
archive / search

    Argonne National Laboratory creates Materials Theory Institute

    International leaders in materials theory will visit Argonne National Laboratory to work with experimental scientists under a new program recently funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

    The DOE funding establishes a permanent, new research organization at Argonne––the Materials Theory Institute, part of the lab’s Materials Science Division. MSD senior scientist George Crabtree described the institute as “a powerful new concept for doing theory at Argonne and the other national laboratories. It invites theorists from the international community for short stays of two weeks to two months or more to focus on the most exciting current topics in condensed matter research.”

    Research topics are selected by the institute to coincide with Argonne’s key scientific directions, drawing theoretical support from some of the best scientists in the field. “The flexible institute focus allows us to bring high-level theory collaboration to many of Argonne’s programs,” Crabtree said.

    The Materials Theory Institute grew out of a long-standing visiting theory program on vortex physics in superconductors, conceived by Crabtree and Valerii Vinokur, director of the institute, and supported by Frank Fradin, Argonne’s associate laboratory director of physical, biological and computing sciences.

    That program started modestly with two or three visitors per year, but quickly proved its value and became a continuing activity with important supplemental funding from the Science and Technology Center for Superconductivity and from MSD Director Murray Gibson.

    The focus for the new program will expand from vortex physics to include nanoscience, a developing strategic initiative for the laboratory.

    The Materials Theory Institute has been successful in its initial year, Crabtree said. Already, experimental programs in nanomagnetism, colossal magnetoresistance, granular materials and superconductivity have received leading theorists.

    In October and December, the institute will host Argonne’s first extended workshop on nanoscale superconductivity and magnetism, a two-month investigation of the science and technology of next-generation nanomaterials. Approximately 40 leading theorists are expected to attend.