Functional materials and emergent phenomena


This research focus at PGI deals with previously unknown physical phenomena in materials that show exceptional performance in energy distribution, quantum coherence or nonlinear behavior.

These materials serve as the basis for developing new concepts and components to improve information processing and transmission. Different applications of neuromorphic and quantum computers have different requirements. In future, these will have to be met by a variety of materials.

The Functional Materials and Emergent Phenomena area pursues a two-pronged objective: It contributes to the big idea of exploring the broad spectrum and constant flux of emerging materials and novel phenomena so that the next generation of quantum and neuromorphic technologies for sensing, computing, modeling and communication can become more accurate and efficient. It takes up the challenge to turn a scientific discovery into a materials stack designed and optimized for devices.


Information can be physically encoded in the surface properties, orbitals, topology, magnetics, electronics, spin states or many-body states of matter. This is made possible by the relationship between matter, structures and phenomena. The term matter covers areas ranging from atoms, molecules and nanostructures to surfaces, solids and their complex architectures. By controlling the states of matter, information can be encoded and transmitted via highly correlated systems in the shortest possible time.

We specifically produce materials and grow them at the atomic level in order to adjust their properties and ultimately provide individual functions for new computer technologies. This requires advanced growth techniques and corresponding experimental techniques for in-situ analysis. We use new theoretical and experimental methods, which we develop ourselves, to develop predictive models and rational design rules from the combination of simulation and experiment.

Infrastructures & cooperations

Important supporting infrastructures in Jülich in this field are:


  • Fabrication of quantum systems through the precise manipulation of individual atoms, molecules or tailored growth of 2D and 3D solids.
  • Developing protocols for the demonstration of phase-coherent control, coupling to a quantum network, and correlation of localized quasiparticle states.
  • Quantum-coherent experiments at the nanoscale as the basis for future nanoscale qubit platforms. These can be spin-based or involve collective degrees of freedom such as Majorana fermions.
  • Investigation of quantum dynamics at the fundamental scale away from thermal equilibrium.
  • Reinventing materials design by inverting the Schrödinger equation combining high-throughput computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and experimental verification.
  • Exploration of design rules for improved quantum and memristive materials and devices for Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing, including predictive models.
  • Developing controllable physical systems (electronical, physico-chemical, optical or spin-based) for reservoir computing or artificial neural networks that can be trained in a physics-aware manner.
  • Developing novel multifunctional materials for neuromorphic sensing
  • Integrated photonics, interconnects based on direct band-gap silicon materials.

Contributing PGI Institutes:

Last Modified: 27.02.2024