Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series: Jeanie Lau

Who: Jeanie Lau, Ohio State University
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Allen Hall 321

Upcoming Talk: Tuesday, February 28 at 11:00 a.m.

A Q&A with Jeanie Lau

Q: What is graphene?
Graphene is a two -dimensional (2D) relative of carbon nanotubes. It is nature’s thinnest elastic material and displays exceptional mechanical and electronic properties. Its one- atom thickness, planar geometry, high current-carrying capacity and thermal conductivity make it ideally suited for further miniaturizing electronics through ultra-small devices and components for semiconductor circuits and computers. Technologically, it is an attractive material for nanoscale electronics engineering. 

Q: What are hot topics for researchers in your field?
The most basic question graphene researchers face is how to improve graphene’s electrical conductivity. If we could achieve it, we could make such things as electron lenses, mirrors, interferometers and resonators, revolutionizing an entire industry. On the materials side, we’re trying to synthesize high quality, low cost, uniform graphene layers to usher in the age of graphene-based electronics. Over the past 40 years, science and engineering research along this line has helped bring about the revolution in the electronic and information technology industries – a trend that will most likely continue. 

Q: Who influenced your career path the most?
My childhood hero was Madame Curie, a brilliant scientist who received two Nobel Prizes, married a physicist and raised two daughters. I’ve achieved one thing she did—I married a physicist, too! My advisors during my undergraduate and graduate studies (Drs. Sid Nagel and Heinrich Jaeger at the University of Chicago; Dr. Michael Tinkham at Harvard) deeply influenced me. Not only are they great scientists, they are also great mentors, passionate about science, who encouraged and guided me when I became disheartened. One of my graduate students influenced me, as well. Back in early 2006, when graphene research was still in its infancy and only a few groups in the world were active in the field, I gave him two choices for his next project: study the electrical properties of carbon nanotubes or graphene. Despite the risks, he chose the latter because it had more opportunities for discovery. Clearly, he made an excellent choice. 

Q: What advice do you give students?
Two qualities are particularly important for a successful career in science: passion and perseverance. Follow your heart and don’t give up when things get tough. Find a mentor to help you avoid some of the “potholes” as you travel down the scientific career road. Be prepared that being a scientist is not easy—you can work long hours, become chronically sleep deprived and be almost constantly frustrated. But nothing can compare with the sense of satisfaction and elation you get when you understand something fundamental about nature, when you discover something for the first time, or when you see your student mature into an independent scientist. These thrills make all the hard work and efforts worthwhile. 

Q: Which thinkers, speakers of books do you recommend for a general audience who would like to better understand your field?
I recommend “No Small Matter” by Felice Frankel and George Whitesides.

Biography: Jeanie Lau

Professor, Department of Physics, Ohio State University
Chun Ning (Jeanie) Lau is well known for her discoveries of novel physics and phenomena of nanoscale systems, in particular, graphene and other two-dimensional materials.  Her research on the electronic, thermal, and mechanical properties of nanoscale systems brings new expertise to the Ohio State materials community that will advance the M&MS goal of developing faster information processing technologies with lower energy consumption.  Prior to joining Ohio State, Lau was a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University of California, Riverside.  She has published more than 80 papers, given more than 100 invited talks worldwide, and was the recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award.


Quantum Transport and Electron Interactions in Few-Layer Atomic Membranes
Two dimensional materials constitute an exciting and unusually tunable platform for investigation of both fundamental phenomena and electronic applications. Here I will present our results on transport measurements on high mobility few-layer graphene and phosphorene devices. In bilayer and trilayer graphene devices with mobility as high as 400,000 cm2/V, we observe intrinsic gapped states at the charge neutrality point, arising from electronic interactions. This state is identified to be a layer antiferromagnetic state with broken time reversal symmetry. In another few-layer graphene system, ABA-stacked trilayer graphene consists of multiple Dirac bands, where crystal symmetry protects the spin degenerate counter-propagating edge modes resulting in σxx = 4e2/h and 2e2/h. Our findings indicate the role of crystal and spin symmetry in generation of topological phases in multiple Dirac bands. Finally, I will present our recent results on weak localization and quantum Hall effect in air-stable, few-layer phosphorene devices. Our results underscore the fascinating many-body physics in these 2D membranes.

Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series

All talks are held at 11:00 a.m. and are open to the public.
Susan Fullerton (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, February 7, O'Hara Student Center

Jeanie Lau (Ohio State University)
Tuesday, February 28, Allen Hall 321

Laura Greene (Florida State University)
Tuesday, March 7, Allen Hall 321

Noa Marom (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tuesday, March 21, Allen Hall 321

Nicole Benedek (Cornell University)
Wednesday, April 5, Benedum Hall 102

Anastassia Alexandrova (University of California Los Angeles)
Tuesday, April 11, Eberly Hall 307

Jill Millstone (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, April 18, Eberly Hall 307