In 2001 she moved to Tennessee and has set up a lab for the study of materials chemistry using infrared spectroscopy. Her research focuses on the investigation of optical and magneto-optical properties of model low-dimensional, molecular, and nanoscale solids with the overarching goal of understanding the consequences of spin-lattice-charge coupling, microscopic strain, magnetic field, and chemical substitution on local structure and functionality. Specific efforts concentrate on elucidating mechanisms for the magneto-dielectric effect and exploiting the complex phase diagrams of frustrated materials to increase the high frequency response, probing unusual manifestations of spin-lattice-charge-orbital coupling, "beyond Heisenberg", and hydrogen bonding effects in chemically-related magnetic materials, elucidating charge and spin ordering patterns in bulk vs. nanoscale materials, and quantifying connections between local and bulk properties of engineering interest such as negative thermal expansion or solid state lubrication. These structure-property issues are at the interface between the traditional fields of solid state chemistry and condensed matter physics. They are also at the heart of our ability to understand, design, and control advanced materials.
Jan has strong research collaborations at several National Laboratories. These include Argonne National Lab, Brookhaven National Lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (where she is a regular visitor). Her research has strong external support from the National Science Foundation (through the Division of Materials Research), the U.S. Department of Energy (Materials Science Division, Basic Energy Sciences), and the Petroleum Research Fund sponsored by the American Chemical Society.
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