Research

Most of the faculty members in the department conduct very active research programs. The focus of most of the research in the department is in the physics of new materials at the nanoscale level, which includes both growth of semiconductor films and characterization of the atomic properties of their surfaces. In support of this work, the National Science Foundation has recently awarded the department two major grants. One will support collaborative student-faculty research in the area of growth and analysis of ultra-thin semiconductor films. The other is an equipment grant which will support purchase of a scanning tunneling microscope. This state-of-the-art instrument will provide us with the capability to image individuals atoms and molecules on solid surfaces. Our goal is to train students to work collaboratively with the faculty making use of the wide array of sophisticated instrumentation we have available in the department. During the summers physics and engineering physics students participate with the faculty in several projects supported by the National Science foundation. We expect to continue this program in future years and provide additional opportunities for student participation.

The Faculty Describe Their Research

Dr. Kevin Kimberlin …

"My research interests lie in the structural and electronic properties of metallic layers on a surface that are less than two atoms in thickness. The area of nanoelectronics seeks to understand how a few atoms might be placed to make electronic devices whose dimensions are near the atomic size level. One important characteristic which is important in electronic devices is electrical conductivity, which is very different for a few atoms than it is for bulk materials. In the laboratory, I am setting up an electrical conductance measurement and an electron diffraction measurement (RHEED, Reflective High Energy Electron Diffraction), so structural information and electronic information can simultaneously be measured as the structures are made. The next experiments with this system will be silver films deposited by Molecular Beam Epitaxy onto a silicon surface held at 100K in ultrahigh vacuum. In this system, there are some intriguing structural developments due to quantum confinement of electrons in the metallic film".

Dr. Jose Lozano ...

"My research focuses in the growth Group IV semiconductor materials. Specifically, I am investigating the growth of Si-Ge thin films by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) at low temperatures (100 K) and studying the electron-induced reactions on silane and germane molecules on Ge surfaces.

I am also studying the diffusion of copper on high-k materials using the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) in the Department of Physics. By studying the diffusion of copper atoms on insulating surfaces we can determine and possibly control the parameters that lead to island formation.

Finally, I am interested in studying the interactions between organic molecules and Cu(111) with potential applications in organic electronics. This work will involve basic surface analysis techniques as well as direct observations of the structure of such molecules on Cu(111) by STM."

Dr. Paul Wang …

"My research area is focused on semiconductor, optoelectronic, and optical materials. Currently I am working on the growth atomic thin layers of Group IV element onto Si/Ge surfaces by using low temperature Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE). The surface chemical reactions will be deliberately controlled by low energy electrons/photons in order to remove unwanted species and leave desired atoms behind on the substrate. Since the nanometer size aggregates/islands can be easily formed on the substrate the microscope equipped with atomic resolution will provide more information about the growth mechanism of atomic thin layer. My near future research will focus on the alloy used in engine as well. Thin films of AlTi doped with Nb and of super Ni alloys will be fabricated by MBE, and their surface reactions can be investigated in situ in the ultra-high vacuum chamber."