Science2016 Poster Award Winners

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 5 December 2016

Congratulations to the Science2016 Poster Award Winners!

Dr. Ran Cheng (Xiao's group, CMU Physics), Ms. Xing Yee Gan (Millstone Group, Pitt Chemistry), Mr. Clinton Johnson (Garrett-Roe Lab, Pitt Chemistry), Ms. Megan Kirkendall (Levy Lab, Pitt Physics), Mr. Jun Li (Feenstra Group, CMU Physics), and Mr. Jierui Liang (Fullerton group, Pitt, Chemical Engineering) won a $1,000 award for conference travel in 2017 and an Amazon Echo Dot.

Science2016 Chandralekha Singh: Improving Student Understanding of Quantum Mechanics

Learning quantum mechanics is challenging, in part due to the non-intuitive nature of the subject matter. Our research shows that the patterns of reasoning difficulties in learning quantum mechanics are often universal similar to the universal nature of reasoning difficulties found in introductory physics. Our research also shows that students often have difficulty in monitoring their learning while learning quantum mechanics. To help improve student understanding of quantum concepts, we are developing quantum interactive learning tutorials (QuILTs) as well as tools for peer-instruction. The goal of QuILTs and peer-instruction tools is to actively engage students in the learning process and to help them build links between the formalism and the conceptual aspects of quantum physics without compromising the technical content. I will discuss the assessment of these learning tools. 

Editor's Note: There were some technical difficulties at the beginning of the talk so the video begins a moment or two after the speaker begins. We apologize for this and hope you enjoy the seminar.

Science2016 Noa Marom: Effect of Crystal Packing on the Electronic Properties of Molecular Crystals

Molecular crystals have applications in nonlinear optics, organic electronics, and particularly in pharmaceuticals because most drugs are marketed as crystals of the pharmaceutically active ingredient. Molecular crystals are held together by van der Waals (vdW) interactions (also known as dispersion interactions) between molecules. Unlike chemical bonds, van der Waals interactions do not involve overlap of electron densities. Rather, they arise from quantum fluctuations of the electron density that lead to the formation of dipoles and higher order multipoles. The electrostatic interaction between these generates a weak but long-ranged attractive force. Owing to the weak nature of van der Waals interactions, a given molecule may crystallize in more than one structure. This is known as polymorphism. Polymorphic forms of the same molecule may possess markedly different physical and chemical properties. Crystal structure may profoundly influence the bioavailability, toxicity, manufacturability, and stability of drugs. In the context of technological applications, crystal structure affects the electronic and optical properties. We use computer simulations to perform structure prediction and design of molecular crystals from first principles, based solely on the knowledge of their elemental composition and the laws of quantum mechanics. We develop genetic algorithms, which are guided to the most promising regions of the configuration space by the evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest. Offspring are generated by combining structural “genes” of the fittest structures in the population to propagate desirable features, while random mutations are employed to maintain diversity. We are particularly interested in optimizing crystal packing for high-performance organic electronics and solar cells.

Science2016 Susan Fullerton: Using Ions To Control Transport in Two-Dimensional Materials for Electronics 

Two-dimensional (2D) materials are molecularly thin, layered materials held together by van der Waals forces.  Because charge moves freely in the 2D plane, these materials have potential application in electronics; however, conventional doping strategies have not been developed for 2D materials.  An alternative approach is to use electrolyte gating. Under an applied gate voltage, ions in the electrolyte create an electrostatic double layer (EDL) at the interface between the electrolyte and the semiconductor; the EDL can induce sheet carrier densities on the order of 1014 cm-2 for both electrons and holes–more than one order of magnitude larger than conventional gating techniques. I will describe our work using electrolytes to dope transistors and memory devices based on graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). Our group has developed a 2D electrolyte for use in memory devices based on 2D crystals, and the first device characteristics will be presented. 
This work was supported in part by the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST), one of six SRC STARnet Centers, sponsored by MARCO and DARPA, and NSF grant #ECCSGOALI-1408425. 

PQI at Science2016

Pittsburgh Quantum Institute
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 3:00pm to Friday, October 21, 2016 - 5:00pm

Attend the PQI spotlight and poster sessions & drop by the PQI booth! Come help unify and promote Quantum Science and Engineering in Pittsburgh at Science2016-Gamechangers.
Wednesday through Friday, October 19-21
Alumni Hall & Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center