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Divisions: Condensed Matter Division
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The Condensed Matter Division (CMD) of the European Physical Society, aims to serve its scientific, industrial and educational communities by helping them to obtain the latest information on progress in their specialties and related fields, to gain visibility for their research, to help them interact with their peers and to develop professionally. For this, CMD organizes a number of major physics events, awards two of the foremost prizes in Condensed Matter Physics, and issues a monthly Newsletter.

The Condensed Matter Division includes several sections focused on specific areas of condensed matter physics:

A major activity of CMD and its sections is the organization of quality peer-reviewed conferences and scientific meetings, including the biennial EPS CMD conference, as well as several other major European conferences.

The last CMD conference, CMD27, was held in Berlin, Germany, from March 11th through 16th, 2018, as the 2018 Joint Conference of the Condensed Matter Divisions of the EPS and of the DPG. Information on activities at CMD27 can be found on the CMD pages dedicated to this event.

The next General conference of the EPS Condensed Matter Division will be CMD28, to be held in Madrid from August 31st through September 4th, 2020.

The Condensed Matter Division awards two of the most prestigious prizes in Condensed Matter Physics. These are the Europhysics Prize and the Liquid Matter Prize.

The 2018 Europhysics Prize is awarded to Lucio Braicovich and Giacomo Claudio Ghiringhelli

for the development and scientific exploration of high-resolution resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS).

The 2018 EPS Condensed Matter Division Europhysics Prize is awarded to Lucio Braicovich and Giacomo Ghiringhelli for the development and scientific exploration of high-resolution Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering (RIXS).  The Prize will be presented on Tuesday March 13th, 2018, at the Awards Session of the 27th General Conference of the EPS Condensed Matter Division, to be held in Berlin from 11 to 16 March 2018 together with the Spring Meeting of the Condensed Matter Division of the German Physical Society DPG.

The foundation of the “RIXS revolution” was laid in the 1990’s, when Lucio Braicovich with Claudia Dallera and Giacomo Ghiringhelli designed the Advanced X-ray Emission Spectrometer (AXES) and installed it at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ERSF) together with ESRF staff scientist Nick Brookes. The modular design of AXES allowed them to systematically enhance resolution by implementing new components and improving their alignment over time. By 2002, the attained resolution of 0.5-0.8 eV allowed unprecedented momentum- and polarization-dependent studies of crystal-field excitations in Mott-insulating manganates, nickelates, and cuprates with photons at the L- and M-absorption edges of the transition metal ions.

Braicovich and Ghiringhelli then designed and constructed the Super-AXES (SAXES) spectrometer, installed at the Swiss Light Source in collaboration with staff scientists Thorsten Schmitt and others in 2006. The ensuing improvement of the spectral resolution to ~ 0.1 eV led to the discovery of a dispersive excitation branch in the high temperature superconducting cuprates, with behaviour identical to that of spin waves previously studied by neutron scattering. The observation proved that single-magnon excitations are accessible to RIXS. In further experiments on doped La2CuO4, Braicovich and Ghiringhelli confirmed the theoretically predicted polarization dependence for spin-flip excitations of the valence electrons due to strong spin-orbit coupling, at the base of the observation of single magnons in RIXS. They then mapped out the magnetic excitation spectrum, with greatly enhanced cross-section and sensitivity to high-energy excitations compared to previous studies.

The discoveries made using RIXS have fundamentally changed the discourse on the electronic structure of the cuprates. Notably, Braicovich and Ghiringhelli and their collaborators showed that dispersive high-energy spin excitations may persist well into the cuprates’ overdoped regime. The greatly enhanced sensitivity of the SAXES spectrometer was crucial in the discovery of a charge density wave (CDW) phase in moderately doped cuprates. High-resolution RIXS was also used to detect momentum-dependent, collective orbital excitations (“orbitons”) in cuprates, titanates, and vanadates. The possibility to directly address orbital degrees of freedom is truly groundbreaking, and represents a qualitative advance over prior experiments that had probed these excitations at zero momentum transfer.

Recently, Braicovich and Ghiringhelli (again with Nick Brookes) have commissioned the ERIXS spectrometer at the ESRF, and have conducted the first experiments that take advantage of its unprecedented resolution of 0.03 eV (at the Cu L-absorption edge). These concern detailed, quantitative comparisons of magnon dispersions in different families of cuprates; the measurement of phonons and the electron-phonon interaction; and the discovery of collective modes of charge density waves.

The advantages of the RIXS technique – measurement of the entire Brillouin zone, unprecedented energy resolution, applicability to small sample volumes under extreme conditions – have led to advances and discoveries inconceivable just a few years ago, that have transformed the landscape of solid-state spectroscopy, inspired a new generation of scientists now entering the field, and will continue to very significantly impact condensed matter research in the years to come. This revolutionary development is due to the vision, the commitment, and the determination of Lucio Braicovich and Giacomo Ghiringhelli, who conceived and worked on high resolution RIXS with great determination for well over a decade, have pioneered the development of both key hardware and scientific concepts, and performed crucial experiments.

Lucio Braicovich is professor of physics at the  Politecnico di Milano.

Lucio Braicovich was assistant in Physics at the Politecnico di Milano as of 1964. He became Associate Professor in Physics in 1970, and Ordinary professor in 1980. Since then, he has pursued an intensive scientific activity in solid state physics, with particular attention to the study of electronic states in the volume as well as at the surfaces of solids. He initiated the study of surface physics at the Politecnico di Milano and in Italy. He has also pioneered the extensive use of synchrotron radiation, which he has used as a basis for the larger part of his work. During the last decade, his research has been essentially dedicated to the Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering Spectroscopy technique, using the ESRF synchrotron in Grenoble, where he permanently installed an apparatus to this effect. An instrument with improved resolution, completed at the Politecnico de Milano in 2006 has since been installed at PSI in Villigen in Switzerland. Lucio Braicovich has also participated in experiments at SSRL (Stanford), Lund, Bessy (Berlin), PULS (Frascati), Elettra (Trieste), SuperACO (Orsay) and SOLEIL (Saint Aubin). Lucio Braicovich is the author  of about 300 publications in refereed international scientific journals. He was, for 7 years, member of the Scientific Council of the ESRF synchrotron in Grenoble, of which he was the chairman from 2002 to 2005.


Giacomo Claudio Ghiringhelli is Full professor of Physics at the Politecnico di Milano.

Prof Giacomo Claudio Ghiringhelli graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1995, with a degree in Nuclear Engineering. He also holds a diploma of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Technologies Avancées (ENSTA) in Palaiseau. In 2001, Giacomo Claudio Ghiringhelli obtained his PhD from Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France. He went on as a University Researcher at the Politecnico di Milano, where he became an Associate professor at the Physics Department in 2005. His scientific interests include Solid State Physics, the use of X-ray spectroscopies for the studies of the the electronic properties of solids, Resonant Inelastic X-Ray Scattering spectroscopy, Resonant X-Ray Absorption spectroscopy, spin-resolved photo-emission spectroscopy, X-ray circular dichroism, X-ray optics, properties of transition metal compounds, high temperature superconductors, magnetic compounds, among which magnetic manganites. Giacomo Ghiringhelli received the Kai Siegbahn Prize in the Kai Siegbahn Hall at the Ångström Laboratory in 2015, and the SPECS VUVX Conference Award in condensed matter physics in 2016.

Links : Physics World, Politecnico de Milano,, ESRF.

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