Sarah Schwarz Rose Hills
Microscopic interaction between localized f-electrons and conduction electrons
In a crystalline solid, the constituent atoms electron orbitals overlap, forming energy bands which allow electrons to travel through the solid as waves. The interaction between local electrons in f-orbitals and delocalized, wave-like band states of the conduction electrons underlies several areas of contemporary, fundamental research in solid state physics. In my SURF fellowship I will research Cerium-Bismuth (CeBi), a crystalline solid similar to the well studied Cerium-Antimony (CeSb). These compounds are part of a larger family of materials called the cerium monopnictides. CeBi and CeSb share the same crystalline structure and similar complex magnetic phase diagrams at low temperatures, but they differ qualitatively in the nature of their magnetic states. I aim to investigate why these qualitative differences arise, revealing the interactions between f-electrons and conduction electrons. Theories of these interactions have had profound impacts on modern solid state physics, including the discovery of superconductivity in f-electron systems and the 1982 Nobel Prize for work on phase transitions. Participating in SURF has given me the confidence and resources to move forward knowing that I will continue to succeed and learn beyond the confines of a classroom. I want to thank the SURF program, Professor Analytis and Robert Kealhofer for the opportunity they have given me by allowing me to help and learn from them in their research. Learning more about experimental solid state physics through real lab experience has made me excited to go forward into a career in physics and continue my academics with a newfound interest.