This is a strong research community producing high-quality work across a wide range of topics. We will maintain this research area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio, promoting links to other areas (e.g. Condensed Matter - Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, and Spintronics) to ensure that the UK achieves a world-leading position in fields such as topological spintronics. We will make sure this area continues to produce research on core topics such as strongly correlated electrons systems and the electronic structure of 2D materials, which pose major scientific challenges.
By the end of the current Delivery Plan period, we aim to have:
- A community which continues to produce high-quality research on fundamental topics such as strongly correlated electron systems.
- Maximised opportunities arising from research that links novel topological states and quantum information, and that contributes to new quantum technologies.
The UK benefits from world-leading characterisation facilities at Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, and the High Performance Computing facilities at the Advanced Research Computing High End Resource (ARCHER). Major facilities are also available in Europe, such as the XMaS beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European Magnetic Field Laboratory (EMFL) and the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL). Researchers should ensure that these facilities, alongside EPSRC investments in single-crystal growth, electron-beam lithography and molecular-beam epitaxy facilities, are used to their full potential.
This research area is strongly linked to the Condensed Matter - Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, Spintronics and Superconductivity research areas, as well as Materials for Energy Applications. The high quality of the work achieved in the field is recognised and well-respected (Evidence source 1). Furthermore, the UK community has been very successful in securing funding from European sources, again indicating high international standing for UK research (Evidence source 2).
As noted above, the community has access to world-leading characterisation facilities both in the UK and in Europe. In addition, the UK Condensed Matter theory community is one of the largest users of ARCHER (Evidence source 3). Access to these high-quality facilities, combined with access to scientists with extensive experience of using them, makes this area well-placed to deliver excellent research.
Researchers in this area typically focus on fundamental, discovery science. Knowledge gained in this field, however, can influence and contribute to a diverse range of technological applications, such as new materials with innovative properties and improved designs of photovoltaic (PV) cells.
This research area exhibits a good balance of researchers across career stages who are capable of delivering high-class research. It currently offers appropriate training opportunities both for PhD students and for post-doctoral researchers.
This research area is vital to achieving the following Ambitions under the Resilient and Connected Nation Outcomes:
R1: Achieve energy security and efficiency
Understanding electronic properties plays a role, for example, in designing PV materials (Evidence source 4). Research in this area can also aid development of cryogen-free refrigeration and improved thermoelectric materials (Evidence source 5).
P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies
This research area can contribute to the development of new quantum technologies (Evidence source 6).
C5: Design for an inclusive, innovative and confident digital economy
This area can contribute to development of new methods for data processing based on quantum technology (Evidence source 6).
- Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Overview Report by Main Panel B and Sub-panels 7 to 15 (PDF), (2014)
- European Research Council (ERC), Statistics
- EPSRC ARCHER Resource Allocation Panels, January 2014 to March 2015.
- Innovate UK, Solar Energy Systems Value Chain, (2015)
- University of Maryland, Advancing Caloric Materials for Efficient Cooling (PDF), (2015)
- MIT Technology Review, Microsoft’s Quantum Mechanics, (2014)