CINT Vision

Providing the Scientific Basis for Integration of Nanoscale Materials and for Enhanced Performance

Science Thrusts

Integration is the key to exploiting the novel properties of nanoscale materials and subsequently creating new nanotechnologies to benefit society. Hence, the CINT scientific community is built around nanomaterials integration. The scientific staff and capabilities at CINT are organized into four interdisciplinary Science Thrusts:

  • Nanoscale Electronics & Mechanics - Control of electronic transport and wave functions, and mechanical coupling and properties using nanomaterials and integrated structures.
  • Nanophotonics & Optical Nanomaterials - Synthesis, excitation and energy transformations of optically active nanomaterials and collective or emergent electromagnetic phenomena (plasmonics, metamaterials, photonic lattices).
  • Soft, Biological & Composite Nanomaterials - Solution-based materials synthesis and assembly of soft, composite and artificial bio-mimetic nanosystems.
  • Theory & Simulation of Nanoscale Phenomena - Assembly, interfacial interactions, and emergent properties of nanoscale systems, including their electronic, magnetic, and optical properties.

Science Thrust Descriptions

Nanoscale Electronics and Mechanics
Quanxi Jia, Thrust Leader
Michael P. Lilly, Partner Science Leader

This thrust focuses on the electronic and mechanical properties of nanosystems and issues related to integration of a wide variety of nanoscale materials.  Ongoing research includes plastic deformation, elastic and fracture properties on the nanoscale, coherent transport and interactions of low dimensional systems, coupled mechanical systems, coupling of mechanical and electronic properties, structural and electronic properties of nanowires, and investigation of materials interface properties.  This research will be strongly supported by an effort in nanofabrication with an emphasis on integration of electrical and mechanical systems in addition to integration with composite nanomaterials and biological systems.  Unique tools in this thrust include molecular beam epitaxial growth of semiconductor heterostructures for producing ultra-clean low dimensional electron systems, a high current state of the art ion implanter, new tools for nano-manipulation, in situ STM/TEM and specialized growth techniques for films, nanowires and other nanostructures.  This thrust is developing two Discovery Platforms™.  The Cantilever Array Platform will provide mechanical tools optimized for nanoscience experiments. The Electrical Transport and Optical Spectroscopy Platform will enable reliable, high throughput electrical and optical measurements compatible with CINT fabrication and characterization equipment. 

Scientific directions include:

  • Control of electronic transport and wavefunctions using nanostructured materials
  • Mechanical properties and coupling of nanostructured materials
  • Exploration of new ways to integrate diverse classes of functional materials on the nanoscale

Nanophotonics and Optical Nanomaterials
Igal Brener, Thrust Leader
Jen Hollingsworth, ActingPartner Science Leader

This thrust addresses the overall scientific challenge of understanding and controlling fundamental photonic, electronic and magnetic interactions in nanostructured optical materials fabricated using both chemical and physical syntheses.  Ongoing research includes colloidal synthesis of semiconductor, noble-metal and magnetic-metal nanostructures having controlled shape (anisotropy) and surface chemistry (reactivity), as well as hybrid, multifunctional (e.g., magneto-optical, electro-optical, and multi-ferroic) nanomaterials comprising semiconductors and metals. Bottom-up assembly approaches (e.g., self assembly, colloidal lithography, layer-by-layer deposition, and directed/field- or interface-mediated assembly) are used to prepare active sol-gel and polymer nanocomposites and synthetic opals. Further, polymer-assisted thin-film growth techniques and pulsed laser deposition are used to grow synthetically challenging complex metal oxides. Lithographic methods are applied to the fabrication of two- and three-dimensional photonic crystals, while physical synthesis (e.g., MBE, VLS) is used to fabricate epitaxial quantum dots, quantum well structures, and quantum wires. In an effort to explore new properties stemming from the creation of novel interfaces and hybrid structures, we focus on developing new materials that bring together disparate material types for creating coupled or additive behavior in addition to multifunctional properties. Here, we emphasize the interface between semiconductors and metals, inorganics and organics, and colloidal and epitaxial. Finally, for both the synthesis and assembly of optical nanomaterials, we utilize the CINT Electrical Transport & Optical Spectroscopy Discovery Platform™ and the Microfluidics Synthesis Platform.  The preparation and fabrication of such novel nanomaterials allows us to study and control collective and emergent electromagnetic phenomena.  We specifically explore the areas of nanophotonics, plasmonics, metamaterials (left-handed and photonic crystals), and solitons.  Further, we use our unique capabilities in advanced ultrafast and single-nanostructure spectroscopies, including various scan-probe techniques, to explore energy transformations on the nanoscale from energy and charge transfer to electronic relaxation across multiple length-, time-, and energy scales.  Such phenomena will contribute to “light capture” applications (photovoltaics, photodetection, and radiation detection), as well as to “light emission” applications (solid-state lighting, LEDs, lasing, etc.).

Scientific directions include:

  • Chemical synthesis of optical, electronic, and magnetic nanomaterials
  • Physical synthesis and fabrication of optically active nanomaterials 
  • Collective and emergent electromagnetic phenomena (plasmonics, metamaterials, photonic lattices, solitons)
  • Multifunctional behaviors and hybrid nanostructures
  • Optical excitation and energy transformations on the nanoscale

Soft, Biological and Composite Nanomaterials
Steve Doorn, Acting Thrust Leader
George Bachand, Partner Science Leader

This thrust focuses facilities and expertise on solution-based, "bottom-up" approaches for development of integrated nanomaterials. Synthesis, assembly, and characterization of soft or biological components and the integration of these components across multiple length scales to form functional architectures are of interest. High-level topics include the intersection of materials science with biology, the interfacial science of soft and composite materials, active- and self-assembly methods, soft/hard/bio composite materials, systems integration, and advanced characterization techniques. Ongoing research consists of development of molecular and biomolecular recognition methods for materials assembly, development of transduction strategies for molecular-scale events, chemical and biomolecular functionalization of interfaces to control assembly and interactions of components, passive and active assembly of nanomaterials with complex and emergent behavior, single-particle and single-molecule spectroscopy, interfacial characterization, imaging, and microfluidic platform development. Capabilities and expertise within the thrust include molecular biology, organic and inorganic synthetic chemistry, surface chemistry, spectroscopy, single-molecule detection, scanning probe microscopy, optical imaging, and the design of microfluidic systems and other integrated architectures (including CINT Discovery Platforms™). Major facilities include laboratories and instrumentation for biochemistry, cell-culturing and biomolecular engineering, self-assembled material and thin-film preparation, chemical synthesis, scanning probe microscopies, optical microscopy and spectroscopy, Langmuir-Blodgett troughs, interfacial force measurements, and spectroscopic or imaging ellipsometry. 

Scientific directions include:

  • Molecular and biomolecular recognition
  • Surface functionalization involving monolayers, lipids, and membranes
  • Active, passive, and hierarchical assembly of solution-based nanocomposites
  • Emergent behavior in bio-inspired materials
  • Integration of active biomaterials and nanocomposites into microfluidic systems

Theory and Simulation of Nanoscale Phenomena
Normand Modine, Thrust Leader
Sasha Balatsky, Partner Science Leader

This thrust focuses on the theoretical and simulation understanding of the fundamental nanoscale phenomena that underlie integrated nanomaterials. Classical and quantum methods are applied to determine the emergent properties of nanoscale materials and systems as a basis of assembly of nanomaterials. A key area of interest is the interfacial interactions that are unique to the nanoscale and are significant in determining the material properties. Material properties which are presently being studied include energy harvesting and transport, molecular electronics, mechanical properties of biopolymer networks, and dynamical transport. Ongoing research topics include passive and active assembly of nanomaterials with complex and emergent behavior, theoretical spectroscopy and nonlinear optical response, energy transfer and charge transport, DNA nanoelectronics, local defects, optical and tunneling probes, mechanical properties of nanocomposites. Capabilities and expertise within the thrust include molecular theory methods, atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, static and time dependent density functional theory, many body quantum methods. Major facilities include visualization hardware and software and parallel computers.

Scientific directions include:

  • Assembly of nanomaterials; interfacial interactions
  • Emergent properties of nanoscale materials and systems
  • Electronic, magnetic, and optical properties at the nanoscale