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Dr. Adina Luican-Mayer
Developing 2D materials for quantum circuits, quantum sensing and information storage
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|Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials||
Our laboratory integrates scanning probe microscopy and fabrication of custom materials and nanodevices. We aim to advance knowledge of physical phenomena that emerge as a result of low dimensionality, presence of surfaces and interfaces, and proximity between different states of matter.
|Describe your research||
As scientists, one of our goals is to develop technologies that can help solve grand society challenges. These technologies can help create a more sustainable environment, can improve healthcare, or they can be used for enabling the digital revolution.
For the last decade, this class of new materials got us all excited. These are the thinnest materials you can imagine —nanometers thin and below. At these thicknesses the quantum mechanical effects are so strong that these materials no longer behave like the macroscopic materials we’re all accustomed to and with that comes the promise of technological advances. We can foresee their use in making flexible low power consumption electronics and optoelectronics or ultra sensitive sensors.
Take graphite for example. This material looks like a book where every page or every plane is made out of carbon atoms that are strongly bonded in plane. Yet out of plane they’re loosely bonded. In 2005, the revolution in the field came when it was shown that you can actually detach a single atomic layer and you can make devices where electrons are confined in two dimensions.
In these devices, these materials behave nothing like the bulk material they came from. Beyond just a single carbon atom layer or graphene, an entire family of materials was uncovered and their properties are being heavily researched right now.
Here in our lab our research team is combining the flexibility of designing devices out of these quantum materials with powerful imaging techniques to uncover the new physical phenomena that occurs when we confine electrons in low dimensions. Experimental techniques that make it possible to address and visualize and manipulate electrons at the atomic scale or at the nanometer scale give us a way to understand new materials.
If you think of interfaces or surfaces, or small defects in the crystal like a missing atom or a misalignment between the planes of atoms, these are all microscopic phenomena that happen at the nanoscale. As it turns out, however, they have a big influence on the properties of materials. They actually determine how the devices behave.
When we get information with the scanning tunneling microscope we can then use that to predict the macroscopic behavior: how the current gets transported or how the heat gets transported in the material and so on. Not only can we visualize the properties of these materials but we can also try and change the property so we can add or remove the electrons and we can try to apply stress or strain.
That gives us a knob to fine-tune the properties that we might be interested in: more or less electric current, more or less optically transparent and so on.
|Explain its significance||
Beyond just challenging our current understanding of materials, we’ve also partnered with industry and governments to try and leverage these new discoveries towards discovering new technologies. In one example of our projects, we are developing ultra sensitive and selective sensors based on our expertise in understanding of the surface properties of 2D materials.
In another one of our projects, we are further confining the electrons in two dimensions. We are creating quantum circuits where we can think about storing information or doing quantum sensing or using it for quantum computations.
2D materials offer us not just the opportunity of a beautiful intellectual exercise and expanding the knowledge of our current understanding of materials, but it also creates the opportunity for disrupting current technologies because when new physical phenomena are discovered, we can now make devices that are based on completely different operation principles.
University of Ottawa
University of Ottawa, Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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