Harold Hwang of Stanford gave a very nice talk about oxide materials, with two main parts. First, he spoke about making a hot electron (metal base) transistor (pdf N Mat 10, 198 (2011)) - this is a transistor device made from STO/LSMO/Nb:STO, where the LSMO layer is a metal, and the idea is to get "hot" electrons to shoot over the Schottky barrier at the STO/LSMO interface, ballistically across the metallic LSMO base, and into the STO drain. Progress has been interesting since that paper, especially with very thin bases. In principle such devices can be very fast.
The second part of his talk was about trying to make free-standing ultrathin oxide layers, reminiscent of what you can see with the van der Waals materials like graphene or MoS2. To do this, they use a layer of Sr3Al2O6 - that stuff can be grown epitaxially with pulsed laser deposition on nice oxide substrates like STO, and other oxide materials (even YBCO or superlattices) can be grown epitaxially on top of it. Sr3Al2O6 is related to the compound in Portland cement that is hygroscopic, and turns out to be water soluble (!), so that you can dissolve it and lift off the layers above it. Very impressive.
Bharat Jalan of Minnesota spoke about growing BaSnO3 via molecular beam epitaxy. This stuff is a semiconductor dominated by the Ba 5s band, with a low effective mass so that it tends to have pretty high mobilities. This is an increasingly trendy new wide gap oxide semiconductor that could potentially be useful for transparent electronics.
Ivan Bozovic of Brookhaven (and Yale) gave a very compelling talk about high temperature superconductors, specifically LSCO, based on having grown thousands of extremely high quality (as assessed by the width of the transition in penetration depth measurements) epitaxial films of varying doping concentrations. Often people assert that the cuprates, when "overdoped", basically become more conventional BCS superconductors with a Fermi liquid normal state. Bozovic presents very convincing evidence (from pretty much the data alone, without complex models for interpretation) that shows this is not right - that instead these materials are weird even in the overdoped regime, with systematic property variations that don't look much like conventional superconductors at all. In the second part of his talk, he showed clear transport evidence for electronic anisotropy in the normal state of LSCO over the phase diagram, with preferred axes in the plane that vary with temperature and don't necessarily align with crystallographic axes of the material. Neat stuff.
Shang-Jie Yu at Maryland spoke about work on coherent optical manipulation of phonons. In particular, previous work from this group looked at ensembles of spherical core-shell nanoparticles in solution, and found that they could excite a radial breathing vibrational mode with an optical pulse, and then measure that breathing in a time-resolved way with probe pulses. Now they can do more complex pulse sequences to control which vibrations get excited - very cute, and it's impressive to me that this works even when working with an ensemble of particles with presumably some variation in geometry.