School of Physics and Astronomy

Quantum transport in atomic- and molecular-scale electronic devices

Research Group:Centre for Condensed Matter and Material Physics

Full-time Project: yes

Funding:

Project Description:

How does electricity flow through an object the size of a single molecule? To answer this question, the student will study quantum transport in graphene-based nanoelectronic devices from cryogenic (<2K) to room temperature. This Research Programme has the potential to deliver impact in fields ranging from nanoscale thermodynamics and quantum biology, to molecular biosensing and low-power electronics.

Mesoscopic graphene devices, ranging from quantum point contacts, to quantum dots and tunnel junctions, can be fabricated with nanometre-precision using a method known as feedback-controlled electroburning. This method relies on the controlled oxidation/sublimation of carbon atoms in lithographically defined devices. Charge and heat transport in these graphene nanostructures depend critically on their atomistic details. The student will therefore combine cryogenic transport measurements with a wide range characterisation method, including scanning probe microscopy, to investigate the microscopic origins of quantum effects.

Graphene nanoelectrodes also provide an exciting platform for studying electron transfer mechanism under conditions that are inaccessible in other experimental setups, and on a scale of individual molecules. The student will study charge transport through graphene-based single-molecule transistors to uncover the quantum mechanical nature underlying electron transfer processes. Insights from this research will not only enhance the understanding of the fundamental process of electron transfer but also offer insights in the fields such as quantum biology, hot-carrier photovoltaics, and nanoscale heat engines.

Quantum biosensor technologies hold the promise of revolutionizing techniques ranging from biological interfaces to rapid pathogen detection to enabling DNA data storage. With high accuracy, sensitivity, and affordability, these sensors are predicted to drive a shift to personalized medicine and rapid diagnostics in real-time anywhere in the world. The student will contribute to the development of graphene as the active component for scalable biosensing methods by developing graphene tunnel junctions for single-molecule detection.

Requirements:

A degree in Physics or Chemical Physics/Physical Chemistry

SPA Academics: Dr Jan Mol