Highlights from the NSF Division of Materials Research Newsletter

Below are some highlights from the Winter 2017 NSF DMR Newsletter; also check out the updated DMR website here.

New mid-scale instrumentation program: Two Platforms, one at Pennsylvania State University (2DCC-MIP) and another led by Cornell University (PARADIM-MIP), focus on advancing the discovery of new two-dimensional (2D) electronic materials in thin film and bulk crystal form, with 2DCC focusing on chalcogenide materials and PARADIM-MIP focusing on heterostructures that include oxides, chalcogenides, graphene and other materials that enable novel electronic and magnetic functionalities. These two initial Platforms focus on 2D materials for electronic applications and will serve as a nexus of expertise where users will gain access to not only mid-scale level tools, but expertise in synthesis, characterization, and theory to help design and conduct experiments. Access to the Platforms are via a three page scientific proposal reviewed by external experts.

National Strategic Computing Initiative: On July 29, 2015, a Presidential Executive Order created a National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). The overarching goal of NSCI is to maximize the benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment. NSCI strongly couples to the “The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution” Big Idea at NSF. Specifically, Objective 3 of NSCI centers around materials development for quantum science and engineering to enable quantum-based computation. Objective 4 revolves around ecosystems, and also includes training the new “quantum workforce.” Objective 5 encourages the close collaboration of industries and research required for deployment of quantum technologies.

Some NSCI-related research is already underway in areas like topological surface states, nitrogen centers, and skyrmions. Using novel physics is a common thread among often unrelated approaches investigated here. For example, the robust nature of surface sates in topological insulators is provided via protection of those states by time-reversal symmetry. Thanks to the fundamental properties of Majorana fermions, Majorana modes are expected to provide interference-free information storage. Other exciting areas involve biological materials such as proteins, which can be manipulated into forming logic states. This research is deeply fundamental in nature and problems associated with the transition from fundamental research to applications are typical for early phases of discovery. States of interest can decohere rapidly, require ultra-low temperatures, or cannot be scaled up. Therefore, substantial effort will be required to move us from fundamental research to applications. Opportunities for DMR communities will involve work where novel materials are discovered and characterized, but also where pathways toward future applications are proposed by researching options to decrease scattering, increase operational temperatures, or propose methods of scaling.

Project Highlights

  • Novel Approach to Fighting Decoherence in Molecular Spin Qubits
  • High Temperature Materials Ready for Take-of
  • World’s Strongest Magnet for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance