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Affiliates – Alan Tennant

Prof. Alan Tennant, UTK.

[email protected]

Professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Research focus: Quantum Materials, e.g. synthesis, molecular quantum systems, 2D materials, quantum magnetism, strongly correlated electron systems, Quantum Theory and Simulations, e.g. AI, high performance computing, topology, algorithmic development, correlated systems, Quantum Control and Measurement, e.g. spectroscopy, out of equilibrium quantum measurement and sensing, transport, and devices



Alan is a Professor of Physics and Materials at the University of Tennessee and Director of the Shull Wollan Center, a UT center for neutron science co-located with the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From 2013 to 2021 he was a Distinguished Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he was Chief Scientist for the Neutron Science Directorate (2013-2017) and was ORNL Labwide Quantum Materials Initiative Lead from 2017-2021. Prior to moving to the US in 2013 he was Professor of Physics at Technical University Berlin and Director of the Berlin Neutron Scattering Center and Institute for Complex Magnetic Materials. He has variously held positions at the University of St Andrews, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and Oxford University (Wadham College). Alan graduated in Physics at Edinburgh University before studying for a DPhil with Roger Cowley at Oxford. His awards include the European Physics Prize in 2012 and was elected a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America in 2022.

Research Description

We explore quantum magnetic phenomena using neutron spectroscopy. We connect experiments with theory and computation to test fundamental ideas about quantum states in quantum magnetic networks. This entails the development of new experimental techniques to push our knowledge of quantum entanglement in materials to new length and time scales. Our work with the Quantum Science Center is on quantum spin liquids and topological superconductors hosting non-Abelian anyons for error-free quantum processing. Current themes are out-of-equilibrium quantum phenomena, AI and autonomous experiment, application of supercomputing to quantum materials, and using quantum information theory to understand quantum measurement. We are based at both IAMM and the Shull Wollan Center, on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus. 

Recent research

Research Image

A material’s spins, depicted as red spheres, are probed by scattered neutrons. Applying an entanglement witness, such as the Quantum Fisher Information calculation pictured, causes the neutrons to form a kind of quantum gauge. This gauge allows to distinguish between classical and quantum spin fluctuations. For more information see Credit: Nathan Armistead/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
We recently discovered magnetic monopoles move on dynamical pathways. See more at and the accompanying perspective article