The overarching goal of the present proposal is to exploit materials design, coherent optical methods and multiple theoretical approaches to deterministically control ordered states of strongly correlated electron materials, also referred to as “quantum” or “complex” materials. The underlying ideas can be applied to vast number of problems in materials physics, but the stated goal is that of optimizing superconductivity at higher temperatures than achieved so far, possibly even at room temperature. The proposal starts from research strands that follow challenging but well-establish paths, such as the use of complex-oxide heterostructures and strain engineering at interfaces to modulate the electronic properties. In a second class of investigations, coherent optical control of lattice dynamics with strong field THz transients is proposed to “anneal” the competing order quenching superconductivity. This builds on our recent discovery of light-induced transient superconductivity in high temperature cuprates, a remarkable process not yet understood or optimized. We will use a combination of femtosecond optical and x-ray experiments with Free Electron Lasers, together with time dependent real-materials simulations. Perhaps the most ambitious goal will be to develop laser-cooling techniques to reduce quantum phase fluctuations between planes of cuprate superconductors. Finally, we propose to use static and dynamic techniques to engineer new phases of condensed matter, for example by engineering new materials with a single band crossing the Fermi level, to optimize superconductivity. A unique combination of complementary expertise, from materials design, to coherent and ultrafast optical and x-ray physics, with materials and quantum optics theory, will be key in making true progress in these areas.
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