Ionic liquids: a spectroscopic investigation

Ionic liquids (IL) are salts formed by organic cations, like imidazolium, pyrrolidinium, ammonium or alkyl phosphonium, and organic/inorganic anions, like hexafluorophosphate, tetrafluoroborate, triflate, dicyanamide, tetracyanamethanide or bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (TFSI). The presence of such bulky and asymmetric ions decreases the ion-ion interactions and lowers the melting point with respect to more classical salts, reaching values as low as -20°C.

ILs posses many peculiar properties, such as an extremely low vapor pressure, a high ionic conductivity, a high thermal, chemical and electrochemical stability, a high thermal capacity and a good solvent capability.… Read the rest

Solid state hydrogen storage

Hydrogen is attracting renewed interest as an energy carrier, due to the necessity of finding ecological energy media which may decrease the environmental pollution from fossil fuels. Hydrogen storage represents a nodal point for the development of a hydrogen economy.

Of the three possible ways to store hydrogen, i.e. as high pressure gas, as a liquid (~20 K at atmospheric pressure), or as hydrides in solids, the latter one appears as the most promising, due to the high mass and volume density and safety.… Read the rest

Volume collapse transition in Ce

Crystalline Ce has a remarkable phase diagram in that is the solid state analogue of a Van der Walls system with a line of discontinuous transitions ending at a critical point.

The two phases alpha and gamma have the same cubic symmetry and differ only on density just like water and vapor but in the solid state!.

However unlike water and vapor the critical exponents close to the critical point are not three dimensional Ising critical exponents, as one would naively guess from symmetries, but  classical (Gaussian) exponents.… Read the rest

Polarons in strongly correlated systems

In system with strong electron-phonon interaction, the carriers loose mobility, ultimately acquiring polaronic character. A polaron is a state in which the phonon and electron degrees of freedom are strongly entangled, and the presence of an electron is associated to a finite lattice distortion, which in turn bind

Phonon distribution function P(n) and magnetic polaron size Lp as function of the exchange coupling J, signalizing the formation of the spin/lattice polaron

s the electron leading to the so-called self-trapping effect.… Read the rest

Graphene and carbon-based new materials

The investigation of the electronic properties of graphene (single hexagonal layer of carbon atoms) has attracted a renewed interest after the development of recent techniques which permit to produce and manage single-layer (and also multilayer) samples of this materials. Nowadays truly atomic single-layer isolated samples are available as well as epitaxially grown graphene on substrates.

Fig. 1: electronic structure of graphene and Dirac-like dispersionA large interest, for its potential technological applications, concerns the investigation of optical and transport properties of both single-layer and multi-layered graphene, which are dominated by its so-called relativistic Dirac-like electronic structure (see Figure on the right).

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Competing orders in Iron based superconductors

In January 2008 a new family of superconductors has been discovered with FeAs layers. Iron is a magnetic ion and in traditional superconductors small amounts of magnetic impurities kill superconductivity so an iron based superconductor is at first sight surprising.

Tc has grow rapidly beyond 50K opening a new gate to high-Tc superconductivity. In addition the phase diagram has some similarities with the cuprates which suggest that understanding the superconductors from this new iron age can help to solve the mistery of the supercundoctors from the copper age.… Read the rest

Frustrated Phase Separation

A large variety of systems with competing short and long range interactions self-organizes in domain patterns as reviewed by Seul and Andelman. Examples range from magnetic systems (left figure A) to organic systems (left figure B).

Inhomogeneous states display a simple set of predominant morphologies like circular droplets and stripes in two-dimensional (2D) systems, and layers, cylindrical rods and spherical droplets in three-dimensional (3D) systems.… Read the rest

Polarons in organic single crystal FET’s

Organic field effect transistors (OFETs) are providing exciting prospects for potential applications in electronics. The active elements of these devices use “plastic” semiconductors, based on carbon and hydrogen. Among the advantages compared to classical silicon transistors, this new generation of components should combine mechanical flexibility, low weight, transparency and low cost. Enormous progress has been made to improve the performance of these devices through optimising the synthesis processes, drastically reducing the concentration of impurities present.… Read the rest

Unconventional antiferromagnetism due to Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions

The relevance of antisymmetric superexchange interactions in spin Hamiltonians describing quantum antiferromagnetic (AF) systems has been acknowledged long ago by Dzyaloshinskii. Soon after, Moriya showed that such interactions arise naturally in perturbation theory due to the spin-orbit coupling in magnetic systems with low symmetry. Nowadays, a number of AF systems are known to belong to the class of Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya (DM) magnets, such as ?-Fe… Read the rest

Strongly Correlated Superconductivity: how can repulsion enhance Tc?

In conventional superconductors, the repulsive interaction between electrons opposes to phonon-mediated pairing. We have shown that even phonon-mediated superconductivity can be favoured by repulsion under suitable conditions which are realized in fullerenes.

Trivalent alkali-doped fullerenes are almost certainly electron-phonon superconductors, and their critical temperature can reach around 40K. There are however many experimental evidences that seem to exclude a simple BCS (or Migdal-Eliashberg) scenario, since electron-electron correlations are likely to play a central role.… Read the rest

Spin-orbit interaction and spintronics

One of the new frontiers in condensed matter physics is development and engineering of electronic devices which carrier “bit” informations in the spin degree of freedom of the electronc instead of their charge. This research line is called indeed “spintronics”. Within this context the spin-or

Rashba band-spilling and spin ordering: from J. Sinova et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 126603 (2004).

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Inhomogeneities in Cuprates

If the mechanism of high-Tc superconductivity is electronic, to understand the electronic excitation spectrum is as important as to understand phonons was important to develop BCS theory. In this regard charge and spin inhomogeneous states, often found in strongly correlated systems, are interesting because they can support new collective modes, “electronic phonons”, that would not be present in a weakly interacting fluid.… Read the rest

Unconventional electron-phonon interaction and nonadiabatic effects

The conventional understanding of the electron-phonon phenomenology in condensed matter strongly relies on the adiabatic assumption, i.e. that nuclei dynamics is much slower than the electron one. In solid crystals the validity of this assumption is usually related to the comparison of the phonon frequencies  with the Fermi energy EF. In conventional systems , assuring thus the reliability of the adiabatic assumption.… Read the rest