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Professor Bruce Gaulin  
Area: Condensed Matter Physics (Experimental)
Bruce Gaulin
Location: ABB 453
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext 24362
Fax: (905)546-1252
  1. Letter to Grad Students

March 2010

Bruce D. Gaulin
Professor and Brockhouse Chair in the Physics of Materials
Director, Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research


Dear Prospective Graduate Student;

Thank you for your interest in experimental condensed matter physics at McMaster. I am primarily interested in studying exotic phases of matter by neutron and x-ray scattering techniques. These phases are typically generated by unusual magnets which remain in entropy-dominated, disordered states down to very low temperatures; by quantum magnets where a non-magnetic singlet ground state occurs at low temperatures, and by high temperature superconductors which may display novel "stripe" phases in which magnetism and superconductivity co-exist in an inhomogeneous fashion.

My graduate students and postdoctoral fellows study these exotic materials by carrying out neutron and x-ray scattering experiments to determine the atomic and magnetic structure and dynamics of the materials, typically as a function of temperature. I presently have six grad students, Jacob Ruff, Pat Clancy, Kate Ross, Katharina Fritsch, Greg van Gastel, and Jerod Wagman, and one postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jeremy Carlo. Jacob and Kate came to my group from the University of Waterloo, Pat from St. Francis Xavier University, Katharina from University of Leipzig in Germany, Greg and Jerod from the University of Toronto and Jeremy recently completed his PhD at Columbia University in the USA.

I have supervised or co-supervised about 25 very talented grad students and postdocs as a faculty member at McMaster. They have all gone on to exciting careers as faculty members themselves (at the U. of Toronto, Edinburgh U., Kent State U., the Technical University of Munich), as scientists at prestige government laboratories (at the Staecie Institute of NRC, NIST, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Helholtz Zentrum Berlin, Defence Research Establishment, Ottawa), and in high tech industry (at Seagate, JDS Uniphase, Read Rite Corp, and Moli Energy).

Neutron and x-ray scattering are very similar techniques, although they provide different and complementary information regarding the structure of materials. A student who has been trained in one of the techniques will have an easy time with the other, as they have so much in common with each other. I have built up and operate an x-ray scattering lab at McMaster, based on an 18 kW rotating anode x-ray generator, and we have the capability to carry out scattering studies over a range of temperatures from about 400 K to 0.3 K. We carry out our neutron scattering experiments at leading international facilities such as the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada, NIST, Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos in the USA, ISIS in the UK, the HZB in Germany, and the ILL in France.

A crucial first step in these studies is to produce the novel materials in pristine, single crystal form. McMaster has extensive facilities, the best in Canada and among the best in the world, for crystal growth and sample preparation. We have built up a new state-of-the-art floating zone optical image furnace laboratory, with two image furnaces, and these have been optimized for the growth of large single crystals of novel oxide materials, like frustrated pyrochlore magnets and high temperature superconductors.

McMaster has tremendous strengths in the study of new materials, and particularly exotic magnets, metals, and superconductors. I work closely with Professors Graeme Luke, Tom Timusk, Takashi Imai, and Maikel Rheinstadter in experimental physics, while it is a great advantage for us to have superb condensed matter theorists with related interests, as we do with Professors Berlinsky, Kallin, Sorensen, and Lee. All of us are part of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's (CIfAR) Program on Quantum Materials, which gives us an opportunity to interact with other outstanding scientists from Canada and around the world on a regular basis.

Please visit my website for much more detail. I am always happy to chat with students about my research interests or physics in general. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! You can also contact my grad students and postdocs directly, if you'd like to get an insider's perspective on life as a Mac physics grad student. Their contact info is on my website, and they would also be happy to hear from you.

Sincerely yours;
Bruce Gaulin