Disorder Control

Key Info

Basic Information

Portrait: Prof. Dr. Matthias Wuttig © Copyright: Colette C. Knight
Prof. Dr. Matthias Wuttig
Faculty / Institution:
Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences
Organizational Unit:
I. Institute of Physics - Physics of New Materials
Project duration:
01.03.2014 to 28.02.2019
EU contribution:
2.186.000 euros
  EU flag and ERC logo This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (Grant agreement No. 340698)  


Tuning Disorder in Chalcogenides to realize Advanced Functional Devices


Better performance of future computers and communication equipment requires substantially higher speeds of switching devices at lower energy consumption. Those requirements can only be achieved by substantial improvement of the transport properties of the materials employed. The transport of charge and heat is strongly influenced by disorder. In recent years we have found a unique class of crystalline materials which combines an exceptionally high, yet tuneable degree of disorder with remarkable transport properties. This class includes the best phase change materials, superconductors with an unconventional coupling mechanism, good thermoelectrics, as well as known topological insulators. For these different phenomena disorder is either very beneficial or – if unconditioned - rather detrimental. Hence we need to be able to control disorder in these materials to tailor their properties.

Exploring this concept requires the ability to understand, eliminate or harness the effects of disorder. Recently we have demonstrated an Anderson-type transition from insulating to metallic behaviour upon annealing. However, to fully utilize these ideas it is mandatory to realize devices with a more directly controllable degree of disorder. Within the framework of this project, we will develop a tuneable Anderson insulator to delocalize charge carriers. This allows us to address a) the transition from an insulator to a metal, the impact of disorder on superconductors (b) and topological insulators (c) and finally d) the ability to control thermoelectric properties by tuneable electronic disorder. From the results to be obtained we expect consequences for a wide range of materials listed in our “treasure map”, with promising new technological applications in various devices.