Student’s Spotlight – Frank Elson

Frank is a third-year PhD student from KTH, Applied Physics, working in the SMaRT group on low dimensional quantum materials, such as superconductors and quantum magnets.

His project can help in further understanding the phases of many body quantum systems, which could in term aid in furthering material-based solutions to be used in new technologies and in energy storage.

To study these materials, Frank uses techniques utilising neutrons, muons, and X-rays, sometimes in conjunction, to get a clear picture of the physics at play. Using inelastic neutron scattering, the magnetic excitation spectrum of ordered or non-ordered magnets can be studied, where seemingly simple systems reveal the incredibly complex excitations. Muon spin resonance allows one to measure the smallest magnetic effects in a material. The fine detail accessible with this technique can shed light on a materials phase diagram under external parameters like pressure or chemical doping. X-ray scattering can access the charge ordering or lattice dynamics of a sample, such as charge density waves or phonons.

Frank thinks that having the opportunity to work in such a large collaborative environment is the most fun part about his work. The most challenging aspect of the project is interpreting the data and subsequent analysis in a meaningful way. Collecting and analysing the data can be difficult, but fully understanding the results requires a lot of time and thinking.


SwedNess is an excellent way connect with people with different backgrounds and in other fields of research but still in a very similar situation to yourself. It is clear that the network and being a part of the community are extremely valuable aspects of SwedNess, but making friends and having a large group of PhD students you can discuss with on topics beyond science has been a huge benefit.

A PhD can be isolating at times, and so having those connections outside of science are invaluable to your experience. Perhaps SwedNess can build on this, and push for students to further participate in activities as a group outside of the courses they take.