This award supports theoretical research aimed at the discovery and understanding of exotic properties of magnetic quantum materials. Instead of examining the individual attributes of electrons, considering their collective behavior reveals many remarkable properties of matter, including the generation of magnetism. The interplay of the electrons' spin and orbital degrees of freedom can produce novel states that behave very differently from the original constituents and bear great relevance for technological applications. This project focuses on understanding the conditions for such emergent states of matter and aims to uncover new features that facilitate their experimental detection and control. Specifically, this research integrates theoretical tools rooted in the modern concepts of topology and symmetries to characterize novel magnetic states. Furthermore, it establishes a connection between the theoretical description and the materials' responses to different experimental probes. Considering real materials in collaboration with experimental groups is an integral part of the research design. The results of this study can open new routes to low-energy consuming reconfigurable devices that build on magnetism and optical control.
This award also supports outreach efforts to decrease the STEM opportunity gap of students from underserved and marginalized communities. This will be addressed on multiple levels of education, from elementary to graduate school, aiming to spark interest in sciences, build scientist identity, reduce the preparation gap, and improve the retention of underrepresented minorities. In particular, the PI will initiate summer programs, a physics Bootcamp, and a biennial graduate summer school and join an existing outreach activity at her institution targeting middle school students to promote awareness of existing opportunities and to help them visualize a future in higher education.