Nanophysics

Research in nanophysics and novel materials are emphasized. Faculty are involved in several research fields at the frontiers of these areas: spintronics, nanomagnetism, superconductors, semiconductors, ferromagnets, mesoscopic physics, left-handed metamaterials, quantum chaos, nanotechnology and nanoparticle synthesis.

Graphene

Graphene is a single-atom thick, quasi-infinite, sp2-hybridized allotrope of carbon in which the atoms are packed in a planar (pure 2D) honeycomb crystal lattice. The Laboratory for Graphene Research is involved in pioneering work in graphene synthesis, and the development of graphene-based architectures for diverse electronic, optical, and energy-related applications. The exotic electronic, optical and mechanical properties of graphene along with state-of-the-art control over scalable graphene synthesis techniques enable new paradigms of research and development of optical, optoelectronic, photonic and optical communication devices. A number of such properties are being investigated in graphene, doped graphene, functionalized graphene, and graphene-based hetero, hybrid and composite structures. Further, advanced functional devices are being developed for nanoelectronics and energy applications.

Topological Insulators and Spin Physics

Future electronic devices are predicted to take advantage of the “spin” (or magnetic) property of electrons. This could lead to devices for information technology with totally new functionality and could be a crucial backbone for quantum computers. On the other hand, the newly-discovered topological insulators are predicted to have bizarre properties whereby electrons on the surface can be spin-polarized and avoid impurities that would otherwise cause power dissipation. Our research, in collaboration with MIT, focuses on synthesizing and characterizing these exotic materials and structures for future electronic applications.

Nanomedicine

The Nanotechnology revolution has enabled novel approaches to addressing the major problems of disease diagnosis and therapy, leading to the emergence of Nanomedicine as a new paradigm for diagnosis and therapy. We have developed several nanoplatforms that offer potential for significant improvements in multi-modal imaging, targeted delivery of therapeutics, and monitoring of outcomes. Magnetic liposomal nanoplatforms for theranostics combine multiple functionalities including imaging, magnetic guidance to the disease site, delivery of the drug payload through sustained as well as triggered drug release. We have already demonstrated in vivo multimodal imaging using MRI, SPECT and FMT using these nanoplatforms.

Nanoporous coatings have been developed for implants, cardiovascular stents and fiducials used in image guided radio therapy of cancer. The non-erodable coatings show sustained release profiles that are comparable to those from erodible polymer platforms, but without the problems of delamination. Nanoporous coated fiducial markers have been developed with tailored release profiles suitable for radiation treatment.
A new doctoral program has also been established incorporating new courses and interdisciplinary research in nanomedicine.

Nanomaterials for Devices

The goal of this research program is to develop nanomaterials for applications in electronic, optical and photochemical devices. Nanowires and nanotube arrays of gallium nitride, titania are being developed and their electronic, magnetic, catalytic and photochemical properties are being investigated for future technological applications. Nanowire array technology is also being used for the investigation of neuronal activity in cultured neuronal networks which can lead to advanced devices for interfacing with the brain.

Nanomagnetism

Magnetism on the nanometer scale is becoming a crucial ingredient for future energy saving applications. These include nanoscale devices for information processing and data storage, as well as high-performance nanocomposite permanent magnets for electric vehicles and wind turbines. In addition, research is aimed at the design and synthesis of semiconductors which are also magnetic for electronic applications. An MBE (molecular beam epitaxy) facility is configured for growing quantum wells, and nanoscale wires/dots of exotic magnetic materials and hybrid magnetic semiconductors.  The work is in collaboration with the NU Chemical Engineering and the UK Leeds University.

Nanooptics and Nanophotonics

Nanoscale optical elements offer the potential of entirely new modalities of controlling the direction as well as the speed of light. We study fundamental properties of light, as well as applications in imaging and optoelectronics. We have made some recent contributions on superresolution imaging, superfocussing and slow light utilizing the unique properties of negative refraction in metamaterials. We have also developed new concepts to control the speed of light using metamaterial cladded optical waveguides. These nanoscale metamaterial waveguides offer the prospect of on-chip slow light devices where light speeds are reduced by orders of magnitude, enabling ultra-compact optical delay lines and buffers. We have used the phenomenon of multiphoton photluminsscence from nanoparticles to study embryonic stem cell differentiation and nanoparticle transport in cells. The results of this work have potential applications in metamaterials imaging components and optoelectronic systems.

2D Phase Transitions

Electrons confined to a 2-dimensional quantum well behave anomalously. Ongoing experiments at ultra-low temperatures are beginning to unravel the true nature of the collective interaction of confined electrons and its relation to the metal-insulator transition.

Quantum Chaos

Electrons confined to a 2-dimensional quantum well behave anomalously. Ongoing experiments at ultra-low temperatures are beginning to unravel the true nature of the collective interaction of confined electrons and its relation to the metal-insulator transition.

Nanostructured Materials

Professor J. Murray Gibson works in the area of nanostructured materials and utilizes novel, state-of-the-art, electron microscopy and diffraction techniques to facilitate these studies.

Nanoscale Dynamics in Complex Materials

Prof. Israeloff uses techniques such as atomic force microscopy, nanodielectric spectroscopy and noise spectroscopy to study structure, dynamics and statistical physics on the nanoscale in complex materials.  Materials studied include disordered polymers, super-cooled liquids, colloidal glasses, DNA-protein complexes, and nano-structured materials used for energy applications.

 

 

The Nanophysics faculty include Professors Murray Gibson, Don Heiman, Nathan Israeloff, Swastik Kar, Sergey Kravchenko, Latika Menon, Clive Perry (Emeritus), and Srinivas Sridhar.