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Crystalline perfection

by CIFAR Apr 1 / 18
Crystalline Perfection

CIFAR Senior Fellow Bruce Gaulin is a condensed matter physicist who is interested in studying novel magnetic and superconducting materials.

His lab designs and makes crystals with special properties, and in the process often creates objects of great beauty.

The crystals pictured here were created in the Crystal Growth Laboratory at McMaster University, one of the most sophisticated facilities in North America. A special furnace at the laboratory can generate temperatures as high as 2,200 C and pressures as great as 10 atmospheres. By manipulating the heat, temperature, starting material and surrounding gases, researchers can create crystals with the exotic properties they are interested in. They can then study the crystals using x-ray or neutron scattering.

Much of Gaulin’s work is done with other CIFAR fellows, including Associate Fellow Robert Cava (Princeton University), Associate Fellow Leon Balents (University of California at Santa Barbara), Senior Fellow Michel Gingras (University of Waterloo) and Senior Fellow Graeme Luke (McMaster University). They use the crystals produced in Gaulin’s laboratory to study phenomena such as spin liquids and high-temperature superconductivity.