DOE Pulse
  • Number 361  |
  • April 23, 2012

Ames Lab’s Canfield makes mark in condensed matter physics

Paul Canfield

Paul Canfield.

Paul Canfield, a physicist at DOE’s Ames Laboratory, is known for his skill in synthesizing and characterizing materials in small, single-crystal form. And that work recently earned him a big prize: Canfield will receive a Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award on May 21.

Canfield’s research interests include the design, discovery, growth and characterization of novel electronic and magnetic compounds — often in single crystal form — and the study of their electrical, magnetic and thermal properties. Over the past three decades he has helped discover, understand, and optimize materials with ferromagnetic and superconducting states as well as more exotic system that have fragile magnetism that can be manipulated so as to shed light on basic questions addressing the very existence of magnetic behavior.

“It is fun to work with Paul, in a very mobile and adaptive research group. Paul’s work with his collaborators on novel superconductors, heavy fermions and quasicrystals is a part of what makes Ames Laboratory one of the main condensed matter physics centers in the world,” says Bud’ko. “On a different note though, I value the opportunity to have mixed and broad topics of conversations with Paul over morning coffee, from visual art to cooking, to motivations for doing everything, to cutting edge science. This breadth of interests helps to keep the research going in new directions.”

Bruce Harmon, Ames Laboratory deputy director and physicist, also remarks on Canfield’s collaboration with other scientists at Ames Lab.

“Paul is a remarkable scientist, and this prestigious award is great recognition of his incredible drive and instinct in pursuing forefront science, and also for his remarkable ability to motivate a cadre of superb collaborators to investigate all aspects of new materials properties so the collective results look more like a promising teenager than a new-born child,” says Harmon.

The Lawrence Award citation reads, “Paul C. Canfield will be honored for innovative syntheses and high-quality single crystal solution growth of novel new materials and the collaborative consummate elucidation of their fundamental properties using a range of techniques.”

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Award recognizes contributions in research and development supporting the DOE. The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron, a particle accelerator. The award includes a gold medal and an honorarium.

The latter part of the citation is exceptionally appropriate according to Canfield, who is also a Distinguished Professor and the Robert Allen Wright Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University.

“I have been truly fortunate to enjoy a host of friends, colleagues and collaborators over the past 20 years at Ames Lab,” says Canfield. “We can, and have repeatedly, formed groups and teams to tackle problems that would be too large for a single researcher or group. This is not only efficient, but also fun, like sharing an intense obsession or hobby with friends.”

Submitted by DOE's Ames Laboratory