Frontiers in Materials Discovery, Design and Synthesis

Project Description : 

When we think about the numerous innovative products that come onto the market each year, it ‎becomes evident what a key role novel materials play in our daily lives. From the latest touch-screen ‎device, to the high-capacity data storage system, to the Maglev "flying" trains, none would be possible ‎without new materials. Moreover, the performance of existing products is consistently improved ‎when their underlying materials become stronger, lighter, cleaner, smaller or more cost-effective.‎ At the Haravifard Laboratory, the quest for novel materials follows a specific course referred to as ‎materials discovery, design and synthesis. Our goal is to better understand, and ultimately control, the ‎emergent behavior in exotic quantum materials, with an eye toward discovering new materials or new ‎physical phenomena. We direct our materials discovery activities by our interest in new ‎superconductors, new frustrated quantum magnets such as exotic spin-liquid systems, and new phases of ‎matter. Our research involves state-of-the-art sample synthesis and crystal growth methods as well as ‎cutting-edge scattering and transport techniques. ‎We leverage the immense existing knowledge of materials and their various properties to tailor new ‎materials that are a blend of the desired characteristics of the known. After we identify and synthesis ‎new compounds we probe various characteristics of the resulting materials - such as magnetism, ‎crystal structure, resistivity, heat capacity, etc. We pursue such experiments at leading national and ‎international facilities, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, National ‎Institute of Standards and Technology and National High Magnet Field laboratory, and regularly use the local shared facilities at Duke (SMIF), UNC, and NCSU. In collaborations ‎with theorists we use these measurements to explain the fundamental physics and the phenomena ‎that actually takes place in the material. The results then help guide us toward the next round of ‎material design, synthesis and discovery, as we utilize the outcome to develop an educated recipe for ‎materials with exotic magnetic and electronic ground states and phase transitions. In addition to our own ‎experiments, we collaborate with numerous scientists around the world who use the samples ‎synthesized and the single crystals grown in our lab in complementary experimental techniques, ‎further advancing our understanding of the fundamental physics in exotic quantum materials.‎

The successful participants will ‎mainly work on the design and synthesis of new materials as well as the growth of single crystals of exotic ‎quantum materials such as high-temperature superconductors and frustrated quantum magnets, ‎primarily by means of the optical floating zone image furnace and vertical Bridgman technique. Other ‎methods of single crystal growth such as flux growth of single crystals, horizontal/vertical Bridgman growth, ‎and hydrothermal growth will be employed and the participant will have the opportunity to improve on ‎and contribute to the development of a variety of new and useful single-crystal-growth methods and ‎techniques. The applicants will also participate in the cutting and polishing of single crystal ‎as well as various x-ray diffraction techniques and some transport measurements. Successful applicants may also accompany the group for x-ray and neutron scattering experiments to be conducted at the national laboratories.

Name of Lab: 

The Haravifard Lab

Lab website:

Project Categories: 

Logistics Information

Expected number of students to be accepted to position: 


Student Ranks Applicable: 

Hours Per Week: 


Contact Information

PI Name: 

Sara Haravifard

PI Email:

Contact Person: 

Sara Haravifard

Contact Position: 


Contact Email: