Penn State Science
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Condensed Matter Physics, Electronic Properties, Low-dimensional systems, Mesoscopic Physics, Molecular Electronics, Nanomaterials, Nanotubes and fullerenes, Strongly correlated systems

Professor Zhu's research effort focuses on investigating the electronic properties of mesoscopic and nanometer scale structures, combining electric transport measurements and scanned probe studies.

For instance, we are interested in understanding the novel properties of a one-atomic-layer thin two-dimensional material, graphene. How does this new 2D system behave differently from its well-known cousins in GaAs and Silicon MOSFET? Will its gapless linear excitation spectrum lead to a new state of matter? Can we tailor, dope, functionalize graphene sheets to build nanosensors and nanocircuits?

Another example is 1D systems realized in carbon nanotubes and nanowires. Electrons in carbon nanotubes interact strongly with one another and form the so-called Luttinger liquid. Many novel phenomena, such as zero-bias anomaly and spin-charge separation, have been predicted. Experimental evidences however, remain scarce and controversial. Carbon nanotubes provide a perfect test ground to look for Luttinger behaviors.

Nanowires are a class of new materials possessing enormous potentials for technological applications. They are only 10-100 nm wide. Some have reached extremely high quality. The nature of nanowires synthesized nowadays ranges from metal to superconductors, semiconductors, magnets and ferroelectrics. Along come the functionalities. Through characterizing and understanding the principles behind the performances of these devices, we can help make better ones.

Our experimental tools belong to two categories: electric transport and scanned probe. Specifically, we use AFM to study materials microscopically. These two tools are complementary and when combined, allow us to connect macroscopic phenomena with microscopic properties. In addition to ambient AFM, we plan to design and build microscopes operating at helium temperature and below to pursue condensed matter topics, a few examples of which are given above.

J. Zhu : Research