The European Research Council (ERC) has announced its intention to fund a five-year, €3.4M research programme aimed at understanding and exploiting complex order in functional materials. From the proposal summary:
The fundamental objective of the research described in this proposal is to lay the foundations for understanding how structural complexity can give rise to materials properties inaccessible to structurally-simple states. The long-term vision is a paradigm shift in the way we as chemists design materials — the “Complexity Revolution” — where we move to thinking beyond the unit cell and harness unconventional order to generate emergent states with entirely novel behaviour. The key methodologies of the project are (i) exploitation of the rich structural information accessible using 3D-PDF / diffuse scattering techniques, (ii) exploration of the phase behaviour of unconventional ordered states using computational methods, and (iii) experimental/computational studies of a broad range of materials in which complexity arises from a large variety of different phenemona. In this way, the project will establish how we might controllably introduce complexity into materials by varying chemical composition and synthesis, how we might then characterise these complex states, and how we might exploit this complexity when designing next-generation materials with unprecedented electronic, catalytic, photonic, information storage, dielectric, topological, and magnetic properties.