The ultimate goal of materials research is to design and produce novel materials with specific and desirable functions. For example, Canadian scientists are striving to create new materials for the aircraft industry, which are strong and yet lightweight, with excellent thermal and electrical properties. Their creation will help maintain Canada's edge as the world's third leading aircraft manufacturer.
The key to achieving this goal is to unravel the fundamental relationship between the structure of a material and the properties it exhibits. As the Canada Research Chair in Materials Science, Dr. John Tse is studying details of atomic structure and properties using sophisticated experimental methods at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron (CLS). These properties can then be tested against different models by solving complex mathematical equations using supercomputers and thus contributing to an understanding of the basic laws governing structures and properties.
In order to probe the nature of the forces holding materials together, Dr. Tse examines the structural stability of materials by subjecting them to extreme pressure and temperature using special experimental set-ups. He works in a new facility for studying crystal structure under extreme conditions at the CLS.
Dr. Tse hopes to establish general rules for building the structures of simple elements at high pressure and to explain the ubiquitous superconducting state of elemental solids. He also plans to study new high-efficiency thermoelectric materials for solid-state cooling and heating and electrical generation for domestic and space applications.
To complement the experimental work, Dr Tse and his group will perform theoretical computer simulations on a supercomputer built from a collection of commodity computers linked together using a high-speed network.