Ultrafast Materials Science
Solving many of the world’s toughest technological challenges depends on first understanding what happens when atoms and molecules are pushed to the breaking point. For example, an understanding of the dynamical properties of materials under extreme environments represents a fundamental challenge for the synthesis and discovery of novel energy relevant materials. Techniques that span multiple length and time-scales, extending from the atomic-scale to macroscopic objects, and from femtoseconds to years, are required in order to resolve the complex, non-equilibrium processes that underlie materials at their limits. We seek to capture in-situ atomic-scale resolution snapshots of the non-equilibrium transient states associated with materials at extremes of temperature, pressure, electronic excitation, ionizing radiation, and electric and magnetic fields. The goal is to direct or manipulate both bulk and nanoscale material properties at the level of atoms or electrons, in order to discover new synthesis pathways, observe the first steps in how a molecule or a material breaks apart, or capture real-time snapshots at the atomic-level of how everything from bulk solids to nanocrystals to molecular systems undergo structural transformations.