Associate Director for the IBS Center for Corrrelated Systems, Group Leader of the Emergent Phenomena Group, both Seoul National University, elected Fellow of the Korean Physical Society and KPS 2015 Research prize receipient, and JPCM Board Member, the busy Je-Geun Park talks to JPhys+ about his work, the field as a whole and what he enjoys away from science.
Q: What research projects are you and your group currently working on?
I and my group are interested in all areas of strongly correlated physics, but focus particularly on the magnetic properties. Our expertise lies in the studies of structure and spin dynamics using neutron scattering techniques. We are currently conducting research on the following topics: multiferroic materials, spin-lattice-orbital coupling in Ru transition metal oxides, and low dimensional new materials. For example, our group has been carrying out extensive studies on some of the most interesting multiferroic materials, hexagonal manganites and BiFeO3, using mainly neutron scattering techniques. We have also studied Ru oxides including Tl2Ru2O7 and SrRuO3 in order to explore its spin-orbit physics. Finally, we have been synthesizing new low dimensional magnetic materials having triangular and honeycomb lattices and investigating their physical properties.
Q: What motivated you to pursue this field of research?
Strongly correlated electron systems, in particular oxides materials offer a very interesting playground, in which we can test and improve our current understanding of condensed matter. More often than not, they usually host several competing phases. This opportunity of unraveling something new has always fascinated me. I have a long-standing interest in probing the ground state and the excitations using neutron scattering techniques. However, at the same time I have never lost faith in the importance of having a holistic approach toward the challenging problem, in particular starting from a full understanding of the bulk properties.
Q: Where do you think the field is heading?
I think the field is in a desperate need of new star materials that would frame the big problems we are facing and, more importantly, shake and transform our understanding from the bottom. If I look back the long history of condensed matter physics over the past decades or so, there has always been a star material every decade. Whether we have the star material right now is my big question.
Q: What interests you outside of science?
I like to listen to classical music whenever I can find time. My favorite seems to vary from time to time, but nothing can replace the joy of listening to hauntingly beautiful pieces of music.
Q: Who inspired you to become a scientist?
It is difficult to single out one person who inspired me to pursue my career as a scientist. But during my career I was fortunate enough to have several people who showed humility over questions, no matter who asked the questions and said that “That is a very good question but I do not know the answer”.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I always cherish the pleasure of working with talented people, in particular my students, and finding answers to my questions as well as coming up with new bigger questions.
Q: What advice would give to young scientists?
I like to repeat the advice of Steven Weinberg: sink or swim, aim for rough water, forgive yourself for wasting your time and finally have a perspective on your field.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Image adapted from Seungjae Song et al 2015 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 27 485604. © 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Categories: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter