March 22, 2010

Broholm of KSAS wins Neutron Scattering Society research award

Collin Broholm, the Gerhard H. Dieke Professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins, has won the Neutron Scattering Society of America’s 2010 Sustained Research Prize for outstanding studies of correlated electron physics in magnets, metals and superconductors, as well as for the development of neutron scattering techniques.

According to the NSS, Broholm was selected for the $2,500 award because of his research’s “enduring impact on science.”

Broholm specializes in experimental condensed matter physics, particularly superconductivity, and quantum magnetism and their interplay. He is an expert in the use of neutrons to probe such materials.

Neutron scattering involves using beams of neutrons (neutral particles released from atomic nuclei through fission) to analyze materials at the atomic and molecular level. As they scatter from carefully prepared samples, neutrons probe the structure and atomic-scale motion underlying technologically useful materials properties, including magnetism and superconductivity. Invented in North America in the 1950s, neutron scattering is becoming an essential tool in a wide range of materials science projects.

Broholm recently was the principal investigator on a project to design and build a revolutionary new neutron-scattering spectrometer called MACS (for multi-angle crystal spectrometer) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Center for Neutron Research in Gaithersburg, Md. This instrument features one of the world’s most intense monochromatic cold neutron beams and a multichannel detector system. Essential parts of this device were designed and built at Johns Hopkins by the Instrument Development Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. As chair of the Experimental Facilities Advisory Committee, Broholm also was closely involved with the development in Oak Ridge, Tenn., of what he describes as the world’s most intense pulsed neutron source. These and other developments in neutron scattering instrumentation are greatly expanding the capabilities and the reach of the neutron scattering in condensed matter physics, chemistry, biology and materials science.

Broholm also directs the Johns Hopkins Institute for Quantum Matter. Funded by the Department of Energy, IQM combines material synthesis, theory and advanced spectroscopies to understand and control materials dominated by quantum effects.

Broholm joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1990 after two years as a postdoctoral member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories. He holds a master’s degree in physics and electrical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a doctorate in physics from Denmark’s University of Copenhagen. Broholm was awarded a Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1994, has served on the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee and is presently a member of the Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee run by the National Research Council.