Research

Quantum-Engineered Catalysts that Turn Excess Atmospheric CO2 into Liquid Fuel

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 8 December 2015

PQI faculty Karl Johnson and his team recently identified the two main factors for determining the optimal catalyst for turning atmospheric CO2 into liquid fuel. The results of the study, which appeared in the journal ACS Catalysis, will streamline the search for an inexpensive yet highly effective new catalyst.

Imagine a power plant that takes the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) put in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and converts it back into fuel. Now imagine that power plant uses only a little water and the energy in sunlight to operate. The power plant wouldn't burn fossil fuels and would actually reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere during the manufacturing process. For millions of years, actual plants have been using water, sunlight, and CO2 to create sugars that allow them to grow. Scientists around the globe are now adopting their energy-producing behavior.

 

Swing-Dancing Electron Pairs

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 13 May 2015

A research team led by PQI faculty Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can "swing dance". This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices.

Superconductors, materials that permit electrical current to flow without energy loss, form the basis for magnetic resonance imaging devices as well as emergingtechnologies such as quantum computers. At the heart of all superconductors is the bunching of electrons into pairs.

The work, done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, was published May 14 in the journal Nature.

Breakthrough in Particle Control Creates Special Half-Vortex Rotation

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 3 March 2015

A breakthrough in the control of a type of particle known as the polariton has created a highly specialized form of rotation. 

PQI faculty Andrew Daley and David Snoke and their colleages at Princeton University conducted a test in which they were able to arrange the particles into a 'ring geometry' form in a solid-state environment. The result was a half-vortex in a 'quantized rotation' form.

 

Quantum Mechanics Identifies Link Between CO2 Recycling Catalysts and Bimolecular Enzymes

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 22 January 2015

Researchers at PQI have identified a promising design principle for renewable energy catalysts. Utilizing advanced computational modeling, researchers found that chemicals commonly found in laboratories may play a similar role as biological catalysts that nature uses for efficient energy storage.

The article, "Thermodynamic Descriptors for Molecules That Catalyze Efficient CO  Electroreductions" published in the journal ACS Catalysis, was authored by PQI faculty John A. Keith, PhD, and Aude Marjolin, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow.

New Discovery Could Pave the Way for Spin-based Computing

  • By Workstudy User
  • 25 December 2014

Electricity and magnetism rule our digital world. Semiconductors process electrical information, while magnetic materials enable long-term data storage. A research team led by PQI faculty Jeremy Levy has discovered a way to fuse these two distinct properties in a single material, paving the way for new ultrahigh density storage and computing architectures.

Levy and colleagues published their work in Nature Communications, elucidating their discovery of a form of magnetism that can be stabilized with electric fields rather than magnetic fields.

New Photonic Device for Use in Harsh Environments

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 26 June 2014

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh led by PQI faculty Kevin Chen has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. This technology is expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments ranging from deep geothermal drill cores to the interiors of nuclear reactors to the cold vacuum of space missions, and it may eventually be extended to many others.

The team describes their all-optical approach in a paper published in Optics Letters.

First Detection of a Fundamental Particle of Light-Matter Interaction in Metals: the Exciton

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 1 June 2014

PQI faculty Hrvoje Petek and Sean Garrett-Roe have become the first to detect a fundamental particle of light-matter interaction in metals, the exciton. The team has published its work in the June 2014 online issue of Nature Physics.

Mankind has used reflection of light from a metal mirror on a daily basis for millennia, but the quantum mechanical magic behind this familiar phenomenon is only now being uncovered.

Quantum Engineering Research Paper on “Transparent Electrodes” One of Top 20 Downloads from the Journal Nano Letters

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 8 May 2014

A journal article by PQI researchers investigating the properties of copper nanomeshes to form transparent electrodes was one of the Top 20 articles downloaded from the journal Nano Letters web site in April 2014. 

The team is led by principle investigator and PQI faculty Paul W. Leu, PhD, and Co-PIs include PQI faculty Jung-Kun Lee, PhD, and research assistants Bo Ding, Tongchuan Gao, and Baomin Wang. The article, "Uniform and Ordered Copper Nanomeshes by Microsphere Lithography for Transparent Electrodes," was published in Nano Letters.

Semiconductor Nanocrosses Lay Foundations for Topological Quantum Bits

  • By Workstudy User
  • 17 October 2013

PQI faculty Sergey Frolov co-authors a paper in Nature Nanotechnology on the growth and characterization of high quality semiconductor nanocross structures. These structures are the building blocks for topological quantum bits based on recently discovered Majorana fermions.

These tests should make clear whether or not Majorana’s (and the nanowires that house them) are a suitable base for the so-called topological quantum computer.

Massive Dirac Fermions and Hofstadter Butterfly in a van der Waals Heterostructure

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 21 June 2013

The remarkable transport properties of graphene, such as the high electron mobility, make it a promising material for electronics. However, unlike semiconductors such as silicon, graphene's electronic structure lacks a band gap, and a transistor made out of graphene would not have an “off” state. Ben Hunt and his colleagues modulated the electronic properties of graphene by building a heterostructure consisting of a graphene flake resting on hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which has the same honeycomb structure as graphene, but consists of alternating boron and nitrogen atoms instead of carbons. The natural mismatch between the graphene and hBN lattices led to a moire pattern with a large wavelength, causing the opening of a band gap, the formation of an elusive fractional quantum Hall state, and, at high magnetic fields, a fractal phenomenon in the electronic structure called the Hofstadter butterfly.

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