Geometric frustration, namely the impossibility of satisfying competing interactions on a lattice, has recently
become a topic of considerable interest as it engenders emergent, fundamentally new phenomena and holds
the exciting promise of delivering a new class of nanoscale devices based on the motion of magnetic charges.
With ENFORCE, I propose to realize two and three dimensional artificial colloidal ices and investigate the
fascinating manybody physics of geometric frustration in these mesoscopic structures. I will use these soft
matter systems to engineer novel frustrated states through independent control of the single particle
positions, lattice topology and collective magnetic coupling. The three project work packages (WPs) will
present increasing levels of complexity, challenge and ambition:
(i) In WP1, I will demonstrate a way to restore the residual entropy in the square ice, a fundamental longstanding
problem in the field. Furthermore, I will miniaturize the square and the honeycomb geometries and investigate the dynamics of thermally excited topological defects and the formation of grain boundaries.
(ii) In WP2, I will decimate both lattices and realize mixed coordination geometries, where the similarity
between the colloidal and spin ice systems breaks down. I will then develop a novel annealing protocol based
on the simultaneous system visualization and magnetic actuation control.
(iii) In WP3, I will realize a three dimensional artificial colloidal ice, in which interacting ferromagnetic
inclusions will be located in the voids of an inverse opal, and arranged to form the FCC or the pyrochlore
lattices. External fields will be used to align, bias and stir these magnetic inclusions while monitoring in situ
their orientation and dynamics via laser scanning confocal microscopy.
ENFORCE will exploit the accessible time and length scales of the colloidal ice to shed new light on the
exciting and interdisciplinary field of geometric frustration.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/mathematics/pure mathematics/topology
- /natural sciences/mathematics/pure mathematics/geometry
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/optics/laser physics
Call for proposal
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