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Theory of Condensed Matter

Theoretical Condensed Matter physics is about building models of physical processes, often driven by experimental data, generalising the solutions of those models to make experimental predictions, and transferring the concepts gained into other areas of research. Theory plays an important role in understanding known phenomena and in predicting new ones.

With over seventy members, the TCM Group is one of the largest research Groups in the Cavendish Laboratory, and the largest university Condensed Matter Theory group in the country. Able to trace its history back for over sixty years, it has been home to many leading theoreticians.

Starting at the first principles microscopic level - with the Schrödinger equation - many properties of materials can now be calculated with a high degree of accuracy. We work on refining and developing new calculational tools and applying them to problems in physics, chemistry, materials science and biology.

Solids often show unusual collective behaviour resulting from cooperative quantum or classical phenomena. For this type of physics a more model-based approach is appropriate, and we are using such methods to attack problems in magnetism, superconductivity, nonlinear optics, mesoscopic systems, polymers, and colloids.

Collective behaviour comes even more to the fore in systems on a larger scale. As examples, we work on self-organising structures in "soft" condensed matter systems, non-linear dynamics of interacting systems, the observer in quantum mechanics, and models of biophysical processes, from the molecular scale up to neural systems.

Majorana fermion. Credit ORNL

Dr Knolle's work as part of an international team including experimentalists from Oak Ridge National Lab has led to the observation of magnetic Majorana fermion quasiparticles. Neutron scattering experiments at very low temperatures in RuCl3 showed close agreement to the theoretical quantum spin liquid predictions.


TCM congratulates Joseph Nelson on passing his PhD viva. He remains in TCM as a PostDoc in Dr Morris's group.

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Theoretical Condensed Matter physics is about building models of physical processes, often driven by experimental data, generalising the solutions of those models to make experimental predictions, and transferring the concepts gained into other areas of research. Theory plays an important role in understanding known phenomena and in predicting new ones.

With over seventy members, the TCM Group is one of the largest research Groups in the Cavendish Laboratory, and the largest university Condensed Matter Theory group in the country. Able to trace its history back for over sixty years, it has been home to many leading theoreticians.

Starting at the first principles microscopic level - with the Schrödinger equation - many properties of materials can now be calculated with a high degree of accuracy. We work on refining and developing new calculational tools and applying them to problems in physics, chemistry, materials science and biology.

Solids often show unusual collective behaviour resulting from cooperative quantum or classical phenomena. For this type of physics a more model-based approach is appropriate, and we are using such methods to attack problems in magnetism, superconductivity, nonlinear optics, mesoscopic systems, polymers, and colloids.

Collective behaviour comes even more to the fore in systems on a larger scale. As examples, we work on self-organising structures in "soft" condensed matter systems, non-linear dynamics of interacting systems, the observer in quantum mechanics, and models of biophysical processes, from the molecular scale up to neural systems.

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Majorana fermion. Credit ORNL

Dr Knolle's work as part of an international team including experimentalists from Oak Ridge National Lab has led to the observation of magnetic Majorana fermion quasiparticles. Neutron scattering experiments at very low temperatures in RuCl3 showed close agreement to the theoretical quantum spin liquid predictions.


TCM congratulates Joseph Nelson on passing his PhD viva. He remains in TCM as a PostDoc in Dr Morris's group.

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