Hope Bretscher is awarded a Humboldt Fellowship

Hope Bretscher from the Ultrafast Transport in Quantum Materials Group based at the MPSD has been selected for a postdoctoral Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She currently investigates graphene heterostructures using on-chip THz spectroscopy in the independent research group led by James McIver.

Thanks to the Fellowship, Bretscher will be able to extend this research technique to transition metal dichalcogenides. “I’d like to investigate devices of twisted WSe2, which recently exhibited hints of superconductivity in addition to other anomalous phenomena. Understanding why and when such phases occur will advance our understanding of the world and could help to design next generation devices. However, current experimental techniques are limited by the length-scale and temperatures required to study these samples. I’m working with James McIver to adapt his novel technique to these samples.”

Bretscher and her fellow researchers send short electrical pulses through the material. The material alters the electrical pulse, and these changes are then measured by a laser pulse, revealing detailed information about the material’s behavior. These fundamental insights could play a significant role in the future development of new computer types.

Hope Bretscher studied physics and human rights at the University of Chicago in the USA. She completed her MA in Science and Technology Studies in Edinburgh, Scotland, and recently defended her PhD thesis in the Optoelectronics Group at the University of Cambridge, UK. Since her arrival at the MPSD last December, Hope has been studying correlated phenomena in van der Waals heterostructures and is enthusiastic about the on-chip THz spectroscopy technique:

“I think it has great potential to investigate a lot of the materials and phenomena I am interested in and will be really useful for expanding our knowledge of various quantum materials,” she says. The Humboldt Fellowship is a huge bonus: “I am glad that I'll have more flexibility to stay here for another couple of years to really bring this technique into fruition on a number of interesting systems. The MPSD has incredible experimental research facilities as well as many great theorists, and these internal connections have already helped us to begin building various theory collaborations.“

Humboldt Research Fellowships are awarded to young scientists intending to carry out long-term research in Germany. The scientists choose a research institution and a host for the duration of their research stay.

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