Public Release: 

Ames Laboratory to lead new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals

DOE/Ames Laboratory

AMES, Iowa - The Department of Energy (DOE) will award Ames Laboratory $10.75 million in funding over four years for a new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals, one of DOE's newest Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). DOE is providing $100 million to 42 EFRCs across the country to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.

The Center for the Advancement of Topological Semimetals (CATS) will be located at Ames Laboratory under the direction of Ames Laboratory scientist and Iowa State University Professor Rob McQueeney, and will partner with researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Harvard University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Waterloo, Canada.

The recent discovery of topological semimetals (TSMs) has opened an exciting frontier of scientific discovery at the intersection of magnetism and electronic band topology. The potential impact of the new Center is not only the discovery of new materials, but understanding how to build new functionalities out of topological semimetals and how to harness them for transformative changes in areas such as mid-infrared photodetection, light harvesting, and spintronics. Along the way, CATS will train young researchers to lead the discovery and development of quantum properties of matter.

"Topological semimetals have moved from purely theoretical concepts to realizable materials in just a few years," McQueeney said. "The discovery of new magnetic topological semimetals, their implementations in thin films and heterostructures, and control of their properties are key goals for the Center.

This needs to be done with close connections to theory, which continues to develop rapidly. The field has continued to move forward, even in the few short months since the proposal was written. Our first task is to convene a kick-off meeting with the research team later this summer."

Established by DOE's Office of Science in 2009, the EFRC program brings together researchers from multiple disciplines and institutions--including universities, national laboratories, and nonprofit organizations--and combines them into synergistic, highly productive teams. In addition to its leadership of CATS, Ames Laboratory will also partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on its Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center.

The current cohort of EFRCs, selected by competitive peer review, includes 22 new centers and the renewals of nine existing ones. All of the centers will be funded for up to four years. In addition, based on favorable peer review evaluations, another 11 existing centers were awarded two-year extensions to support the completion of valuable research that is still in progress. Since 2009, the EFRCs have produced over ten thousand peer-reviewed scientific publications and generated hundreds of inventions at various stages of the patent process, fostering a wide range of new technologies that have benefitted multiple private sector companies, both large and small.


Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Ames Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

Rob McQueeney, Division of Materials Science and Engineering, 515-294-7712

Kerry Gibson, Communications, 515-294-1405

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