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Research Fellows Directory

Benoit Fauque

Dr Benoit Fauque

Research Fellow


University of Bristol

Research summary

My research focuses on the electronic behavior of matter. I study the effect of a magnetic field on simple elements such as bismuth and graphite. When a magnetic field is applied to a metal, the electron trajectories are helices spiraling around the field lines. As the magnetic field is increasing, the diameter of these tubes decreases up to a limit where the diameter becomes of the same order as the Fermi wavelength. This limit is called the quantum limit; it is an exciting playground for scientists to explore the quantum effect on electron behavior. Whereas this area of physics has been intensively studied in the case of 2D electron gas systems, the nature of the ground state of 3D metals is still an open question. The reason is that for most metals the quantum limit is reached for a field of the order of 1000T, which is inaccessible using existing magnetic field facilities. However, in the case of semi metals (characterized by a small number of carriers) this limit is reached for a magnetic field of 10T, which can be easily reached by commercial superconducting magnets. As experimentalist, I used a combination of different experimental technics such as: electrical, thermal transport and neutron scattering to probe the physics of the quantum limit in 3D metals. It recently appears that one of the best probes is the thermo electrical response (i.e. the interdependence of an electric field and a temperature gradient in a solid). Our works reveal unexpected field anomalies at high field, which suggested the existence of an exotic quantum state beyond the quantum limit of 3D metals. In spite of an insensitive quest for a useful thermo electrical materials (motivated by the environment-friendliness of thermoelectric refrigerators and generators), the fundamental understanding of the thermo electrical response is still lacking. Our works may reveal some of the important microscopic parameters which control this response.

Grants awarded

Nature of the electronic ground state of a 3D metal near the quatum limit

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Jul 2009 - Apr 2010

Value: £99,000

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