Magnetism II

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Experimental studies of magnetic, electronic, and thermodynamic properties of strongly correlated electron systems

  • AM Strydom (Group Leader, Physics Department UJ)
  • DT Adroja (Visiting Professor, ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Facility, UK)
  • B Sondezi (Senior Lecturer, Physics UJ)
  • B Sahu (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Physics UJ)
  • M Ogunbunmi (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Physics UJ)
  • R Djoumessi (PhD student, Physics UJ)
  • J Mboukam (PhD student, Physics UJ)
  • S Xhakaza (PhD student, Physics UJ)
  • M Katametsi (MSc Student, Physics UJ)
  • P Mabidi (MSc Student, Physics UJ)

Heavy fermion (HF) systems are compounds based mostly upon the rare-earth elements cerium, ytterbium, or the actinide element uranium. These form part of a wider class of materials known as strongly correlated electron systems. Our research in correlated systems is driven by the curiosity to explore new properties and to learn about the interactions between electrons and quasiparticle excitations in metals, semi-metals, and semiconductors. Heavy fermion behaviour challenges our understanding of the collective behaviour of electrons. A rich variety of interactive behaviour is found among the spin and charge degrees of freedom in correlated and quantum matter which make this an exciting and frontier field of research in condensed matter physics.

We find the really exciting reasons for studying HF systems mainly at low temperatures: near room temperature they behave like ordinary metals when we measure the magnetic susceptibility, for instance. But, when a HF metal is cooled down to near the boiling point of liquid helium, physical properties start to take many unexpected turns: the specific heat behaves in a manner that leads us to think in terms of the electrons having become extremely massive indeed (hence “heavy fermions”).

A number of HF systems are found to be magnetically ordered at low temperature, some become superconducting, and in a select few alloys superconductivity even coexists with magnetic ordering. Electrical resistivity and other electronic and thermal transport phenomena are powerful methods to investigate physical properties of HF systems. HF semiconductors are a small group of strongly correlated systems for which the electronic transport is particularly strongly temperature-dependent near and below room temperature. These materials are of special interest due to the strong electronic correlations found in the presence of very low carrier densities.

Studentships for MSc and PhD Degrees

Bursaries and studentships for MSc and PhD degree studies are available according to the annual calls from our funding agencies on enquiry; to students from South African or international, to enrol for an experimental research degree in one of our fields of study.

Please direct enquiries to:

Prof AM Strydom:

Magnetism Ii Group

Current postgraduate students in Prof Strydom’s lab: (back row) Baidyanath Sahu (Postdoctoral Research Associate),

Masego Katametsi (MSc), Redrisse Djoumessi (PhD), Jean Jules (PhD), Michael Ogunbunmi (Postdoctoral Research Associate),

(front row) Precious Mabidi (MSc), Sindisiwe Xhakaza (PhD)

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

Post-doctoral fellowships are available according to the annual calls from our funding agencies to qualified South African and International students who are interested in pursuing experimental Physics research on the topic of thermal properties of Strongly Correlated Electron (SCES) systems. Thermoelectric properties of SCES and related materials are offered as a research topic of special interest. The research would entail all aspects of sample synthesis and characterisation, measurement and interpretation of physical properties, and participation in writing research publications. Grants for attending local and international conferences are available as part of the fellowships. A wide variety of synthesis, characterization and measurement facilities are available locally. Interested researchers are invited to discuss possible topics and to direct enquiries to

Prof AM Strydom at:

Tel: +27 (0)11 559 2320

Fax: +27 (0)11 559 2339