Physics & Chemistry at Surfaces: Broken Symmetry
“God made the bulk; surfaces were invented by the devil” –– W. Pauli
The last decade has been highlighted by research focusing on materials on the nanoscale. As the physical dimensions of materials shrink, one eventually reaches the limit, at the nanometer, where a material’s properties are determined by just a few atoms. As the surface-to-volume ratio increases, core dimensions decrease and new material properties result that are quantum-mechanical in origin. In order to create nanomaterials by design, it is necessary to understand the underlying physics that allow one to predict new behavior. This includes answering questions such as: what are the novel electronic, catalytic, elastic, tribological, magnetic, or biological properties that emerge as the physical size decreases? In order to answer these questions, the surface of materials, with intrinsic broken symmetry, has become a “playground” for understanding the physics and chemistry in reduced dimensionality.
One focus of this joint program is exploring the atomic and electronic behavior that is exhibited in reduced dimensional systems, specifically, the growth and characterization of supported, 0-D (clusters) and 1-D metal atomic/nano-wires. The interest is in understanding the novel electronic/chemical/catalytic properties in reduced dimension and how these properties dictate growth and structure. The properties of electrons become more and more “exotic” as the dimension decrease. Utilizing state-of-the-art experimental instrumentation, we are probing and elucidating the novel properties of reduced dimensional nanostructures and surfaces. For example, by synergistically coupling theory/modeling – experimental nano/surface science – application engineering, these investigations are poised at advancing new materials for energy environment technology. This dual-degree program welcomes new graduate students to participate this exciting research. Assistantship and scholarship are available. Students will have access to a spectrum of advanced research equipment and work with one of the leading groups in this rapidly emerging field. For more information, contact Profs. Ward Plummer(firstname.lastname@example.org), Phil Sprunger (email@example.com), or Richard Kurtz (firstname.lastname@example.org).