Thermodynamics of quantum materials at the microscale
Modern quantum materials, such as unconventional superconductors, quantum spin liquids, and topological semimetals, host a wide variety of emergent states of matter. A grand experimental challenge is to determine the broken symmetries and topological structure of these states. The Modic group combines custom-built thermodynamic probes with state-of-the-art sample preparation to answer these questions.
The group uses advanced focused-ion beam (FIB) micro-structuring to design unique experiments and broaden the search space for discovery. For example, topological materials are expected to produce the next generation of electronics, but their surface-state properties are usually inaccessible to bulk measurements, such as resistivity or magnetization. Using the FIB, they can increase the surface-to-volume ratio of the sample and detect surface states directly. Modic and her team primarily develop two powerful thermodynamic and symmetry-sensitive techniques for use at the microscale: resonant torsion magnetometry and pulsed-echo ultrasound. At IST Austria, they also have the in-house capability to perform electrical transport, heat capacity and magnetization at low temperatures (300 mK) and at moderate magnetic fields (14 tesla). Magnetic fields are a versatile tuning parameter that can be used to drive materials into new states of matter, to map Fermi surface geometries, and to measure the strength of magnetic interactions. The group has expertise in designing experiments that work in pulsed magnetic fields up to 100 tesla, and the scientists regularly travel to high-field facilities around the world.
On this site:
Identifying new phases of matter in topological materials | Determining broken symmetries in high-temperature superconductors | Exploring the dynamics of spin liquid excitations
Modic KA, McDonald RD, Ruff JPC, Bachmann MD, Lai Y, Palmstrom JC, Graf D, Chan MK, Balakirev FF, Betts JB, Boebinger GS, Schmidt M, Lawler MJ, Sokolov DA, Moll PJW, Ramshaw BJ, Shekhter A. 2021. Scale-invariant magnetic anisotropy in RuCl3 at high magnetic fields. Nature Physics. 17, 240–24. View
Hartstein M, Hsu YT, Modic KA, Porras J, Loew T, Tacon ML, Zuo H, Wang J, Zhu Z, Chan MK, Mcdonald RD, Lonzarich GG, Keimer B, Sebastian SE, Harrison N. 2020. Hard antinodal gap revealed by quantum oscillations in the pseudogap regime of underdoped high-Tc superconductors. Nature Physics. 16, 841–847. View
Ghosh S, Matty M, Baumbach R, Bauer ED, Modic KA, Shekhter A, Mydosh JA, Kim E-A, Ramshaw BJ. 2020. One-component order parameter in URu2Si2 uncovered by resonant ultrasound spectroscopy and machine learning. Science Advances. 6(10), eaaz4074. View
From 2020 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2016-2019 Postdoctoral Researcher, Microstructured Quantum Matter & Physics of Quantum Materials, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden, Germany
2012-2016 Graduate Research Assistant, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory – Pulsed Field Facility, Los Alamos NM, USA
2015 PhD, University of Texas, Austin TX, USA
2009 BSc, Clemson University, Clemson SC, USA
2020-2025 Elisabeth-Schiemann Fellowship