Assistant Professor Benjamin Hunt wins DOE’s Early Career Award

Benjamin Hunt, assistant professor of physics and member of the Quantum Electronics Group at Carnegie Mellon University was awarded a prestigious $750,000 Early Career Grant from the Department of Energy to study how layering different two-dimensional crystals (such as graphene and the magnetic insulator CrSiTe3) can lead to new, emergent properties in the composite layered structure.

Hunt is an experimental condensed matter physicist and a member of Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. His group builds devices to study electronic transport and quantum capacitance using novel nanofabrication. Most of his work includes the study of the complex behavior that matter exhibits in the quantum limit: at low temperatures, in reduced dimensions (particularly 2D electrons), and in the presence of large electric and magnetic fields.

“Will the new structure – known as a van der Waals heterostructure for the forces that hold the layers together – truly be greater than the sum of its parts?”

His research work on graphene/CrSiTe3 structures has a high potential to realize a “topological edge state, where a charge- and spin-carrying current would travel around the boundary of the graphene material, immune to the collisions that typically cause electrons to dissipate energy when travelling through conventional solids. Such topological edge states are of great interest for new paradigms of information processing, such as spintronics and topological quantum computing.

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