Gabriella Andersson, Materials Physics

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

To me, materials physics is about trying to improve the natural properties of materials by constructing new combinations of the elements, thereby achieving custom-tailored new effects. I am particularly interested in magnetic materials at the micro- and nanometre levels and how their properties can be adapted to what is best for the innumerable applications that exist. It can involve the strength of the magnetic material, and how difficult it is to influence it with an external magnetic field. Materials are built up using a carefully considered mixture and structuring all the way down to the atomic level. I am focusing on understanding how and why the relevant properties change depending on which elements I combine, as this knowledge paves the way for further control possibilities. It is fascinating that properties are determined by what atoms remain in place and by what their close neighbours are, as well as by how well their placement is ordered.

Susanne Mirbt, Theory of Condensed Matter

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

My research is focused on modelling the properties of materials in relation to the localised electrons in semiconductors. Most electrons in a material are rather widely distributed. On the other hand, defects and polarons bring about localised electrons. Today’s technological developments could not have been possible without the existence of localised electrons. Defects are individual alien atoms in the material or a deviation in the otherwise regular structure of a crystal. The localisation of electrons is usually critical to the properties of the material, such as its capacity to conduct electricity or its colour. Localisation can also occur without any effects. The electron then causes a deviation in the crystal structure that is called a “polaron”. This is an active research field that promises many exciting insights in the future. My goal is to use density function theory (DFT) to contribute to our understanding of and our ability to predict primarily polaron-related material properties.