Welcome to the Nanoscale Materials and Systems Group! Our group focuses on synthesis of new nanomaterials, characterization of fundamental physical properties of these materials, and development of powerful new device structures and systems for applications in energy storage, electronics, robotics, and medicine.

Central to our vision is the capability to fabricate new nanomaterials and exploit their unique physical properties in novel concepts as well as to investigate fundamental questions and scientific challenges in interdisciplinary physics. Our current projects focus on emerging physical phenomena in three major research areas:

1.    Nanomaterials

The synthesis of new nanoscale materials with unique physical properties provides many opportunities for revolutionary advances in science and technology. Our group is active in the fabrication of the following nanomaterials:

  • 2D materials (graphene) and their 3D assemblies (graphene aerogels)
  • silicon nanowires and nanocrystals
  • atomically thin metal oxide films

We use different synthesis methods, including chemical vapor deposition (CVD), plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD), atomic layer deposition (ALD), thermal evaporation and sputtering, hydrothermal synthesis, and a high-temperature furnace (up to 3000 °C). An important part of our research is also the detailed characterization of the fabricated materials using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and electron transport methods.

2.     Energy storage

Our research is focused on elucidating the fundamental electrochemical and physical processes in energy storage. We investigate different types of rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors. We explore new types of chemistries and develop novel electrolytes (e.g. water-in-salt, gel, and solid electrolytes) and advanced electrode materials (e.g. 2D materials and nanosilicon). Our general aim is to develop efficient, sustainable, and low-cost energy storage technology that has the potential to deliver breakthroughs in energy density and power the future economy. 
Current projects:

  • dual-ion batteries
  • aqueous batteries and supercapacitors
  • multivalent metal-ion batteries  

3.    Electronic sensors

Small, fast, sensitive and selective electronic sensors capable of detecting various external stimuli (e.g. force, pressure, or minuscule amounts of chemical and biological substances) provide enormous potential for applications in medicine, electronics and robotics. The research activities of our group focus on the development of novel electronic sensors based on graphene aerogels and graphene field-effect transistors (FETs). We investigate different sensing mechanisms and detection principles for haptic sensing and chemical detection of molecules (e.g. DNA).

We develop new types of tactile and chemical sensors. In addition, we pursue fundamental studies of the underlying physical mechanisms at the interface between nanomaterials and molecules/ions using different experimental and theoretical methods. One key challenge is understanding how different types of interactions can influence the sensitivity and selectivity in the detection of various external stimuli (e.g. tactile perception or chemical detection).