Kate Ross studies emergent phenomena arising from quantum magnetic materials.
She was drawn to this field of research after learning about the idea of quasi-particle excitations in condensed matter; these particles exist only within the background of a well-ordered crystal lattice. Ross loves the simplicity of the quasi-particle description, given the apparent complexity of the collective dynamics that produce quasi-particles. Her research group works to create new phases of matter in real materials, with the goal of producing unusual types of quasi-particles. The team produce high quality single crystals of targeted materials and use a variety of characterization techniques, particularly neutron scattering, to understand their properties. The materials are selected based on their propensity to show strong quantum effects at very low temperatures. One example is quantum spin liquid; this type of phase appears to be disordered from a local perspective, resulting in rather featureless responses in most measurements, yet it gives rise to emergent quasi-particles that can be identified using inelastic neutron scattering.
Ross is best known for her work on a class of materials known as pyrochlores, whose lattice geometries prevent the development of ‘standard’ phases of magnetism, allowing quantum phases, such as the quantum spin liquid, to dominate. Her work on one such material, Yb2Ti2O7, indicated that it could potentially host emergent quasi-particles that are analogs of photons, electrons and magnetic monopoles. In other words, a full ‘emergent electrodynamics’ could exist in this material.
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2015
Alice Wilson Award, Royal Society of Canada, 2014
Prize for Outstanding Student Research, Neutron Scattering Society of America, 2014
NSERC CGS-D, 2009–11
Selected to attend the 2008 Lindau Nobel Laureate conference, 2008
Ross, K.A. et al. "Static and dynamic XY-like short-range order in a frustrated magnet with exchange disorder." Phys. Rev. B 93 (2016).
Ross, K.A. et al. "Order by Disorder Spin Wave Gap in the XY Pyrochlore Magnet Er2Ti2O7." Phys. Rev. Lett. 112 (2014).
Ross, K.A. et al. "Lightly stuffed pyrochlore structure of single-crystalline Yb2Ti2O7 grown by the optical floating zone technique." Phys. Rev. B 86, no. 17 (2012).
Savaryet, L. et al. "Order by Quantum Disorder in Er2Ti2O7." Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, no. 16 (2012).
Rosset, K.A. et al. "Quantum Excitations in Quantum Spin Ice." Phys. Rev. X 1 (2011).