Imagine that you have only two hamburger buns, but if you put them together a whole hamburger appeared. That would be pretty awesome right? I work with interfaces of complex oxides – and here the same thing happens. You take two standard insulators, bring them together and suddenly they form superconductivity at the interface!
I work with understanding the fundamental ways of how the structure of a material and the properties of a material depend on each other, and by using that knowledge being able to engineer materials with the desired properties. And complex oxides are amazing in this respect – because all of their degrees of freedom, the structure (lattice), the chemical properties (orbital), the electronic properties (charge) and the magnetic properties (spin) are all dependent on each other. These materials are like the mobile you hang over your babys cradle, a small puff of wind and the whole thing responds. Which is why an interface can suddenly change the properties completely – and why these materials are so fun to play with.
As a scientific community we are just figuring out how all of the intertwined threads of the mobile are working. But in the future, I think we will be able to design materials with the desired properties for applications. Not just smashing the buns together and see what happens, but choosing the buns to get the perfect hamburger.