This award supports theoretical work on the physics of a new class of materials, called artificial nanosolids, which are arrays of small particles, embedded in an insulating matrix, with sizes ranging from a few to hundreds of nanometers. Their properties depend on the competition of several energy scales: tunneling energy, Coulomb energy, temperature, electron lifetime within a grain, and the mean energy level spacing for a single particle. Small granules are often viewed as artificial atoms. Accordingly, granular arrays can be treated as artificial solids with programmable electronic properties. The ease of adjusting electronic properties of artificial nanosolids is one of their most attractive assets for fundamental studies of disordered solids and for targeted applications in nanotechnology. An early determination and understanding of the properties of artificial nanosolids will have far-reaching consequences in the emerging nano-electronics industry as these new materials will be the main building blocks of future quantum electronics and spintronic devices. Furthermore, new fundamental quantum phenomena such as Coulomb blockade effects, which are predicted to occur in these artificial nanosolids may hold prospects for their applications in novel quantum memory devices and quantum computers.

The theoretical studies to be carried out will provide fundamental insight into how the novel bulk behavior of artificial nanosolids may be predicted, controlled and manipulated by varying the size, composition, and coupling strength between nanometer-scale building blocks. The research project has three parts devoted to superconducting, magnetic, and semiconducting nanosolids, respectively. The research on superconducting nanosolids is important because of the appearance of new quantum effects which arise from the confinement of superconductivity within the grains, and possible applications in superconducting devices. Magnetic nanosolids are important because this new class of materials offers an exemplary model system for the investigation of disordered magnets. The research on semiconducting nanosolids is relevant because these materials are now accessible for next generation thermoelectric devices. In addition, granularity is a rather general phenomenon and even the homogeneous disordered systems in the vicinity of the critical points often possess a self-induced granularity. Progress on these problems represent a new paradigm and will have strong impact on condensed matter physics and materials science.

This award supports the PI's educational activities through the training of a graduate student and a postdoctoral fellow in advanced nanomaterials science. The PI will develop a novel cross-disciplinary course on nanotechnology for physics students. In addition, the research will help stimulate and further develop strong university-national laboratory partnerships, as it will strengthen the PI's ongoing collaborations with Argonne National Laboratory.

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY

This award supports theoretical research and education in condensed matter physics. The theoretical work takes its inspiration from discovery of new materials, called "artificial nanosolids", which are arrays of small particles, embedded in an insulating material, with sizes ranging from a few to hundreds of nanometers (a nanometer is approximately one millionth the size of the human hair). The grains in artificial nanosolids interact with each other in various ways and offer rich new horizons of novel macroscopic behavior emerging from nanoscale structure and dynamics. Fundamental microscopic phenomena in these materials can produce dramatically new and programmable bulk behavior when mediated by their granular structure. The theoretical studies to be carried out will provide fundamental insight into how the novel bulk behavior of artificial nanosolids may be predicted, controlled and manipulated by varying the size, composition, and coupling strength between nanometer-scale building blocks. The research is interdisciplinary with a focus at the interface between physics, materials science, and nanoscience.

This award supports the PI's educational activities through the training of a graduate student and a postdoctoral fellow in advanced nanomaterials science. The PI will develop a novel cross-disciplinary course on nanotechnology for physics students. In addition, the research will help further develop strong university-national laboratory partnerships, as it will strengthen the PI's ongoing collaborations with Argonne National Laboratory.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
Application #
1158666
Program Officer
Daryl W. Hess
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2015-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$162,000
Indirect Cost
Name
The University Corporation, Northridge
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Northridge
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
91330