Atomically thin crystalline structures such as two-dimensional (2D) materials or single- and few- walled nanotubes exhibit several interesting physical and chemical properties, which could be processed to fulfill the requirement of different technological applications.
The recent extensive studies have proven that a number of materials exist in layered structures and with a top-down method (mechanical cleavage) they can be isolated from their 3D counterpart to atomically thin few-layered and even monolayered materials. On the other hand advanced bottom-up synthesis methods led to several synthetic 2D materials that do not have bulk analogues. All together the diverse library of the 2D materials, which probably will continue to expand, possesses a wide range of physical and chemical properties. In addition, 2D materials have a unique degree of freedom, that is the ability to form heterostructures by stacking different 2D materials on top of each other, in which the properties of the heterostructure not only depends on the individual layers but also on their relative interaction. The "2D material lab" at the physics department is focusing on synthesis of atomically thin structures as well as investigation of their fundamental properties and technological applications via different characterization technique, in particular in situ transmission electron microscopy experiments.
Developing hydrophilic thin-windows for liquid cell electron microscopy
Electron microscopy (EM) in liquid phase was motivated by a massive interest on understanding the physical and chemical behavior of materials in liquid phase such as crystal growth, real time dynamics of nanoparticles and imaging biological samples. Conventional EM liquid cells are based on a sealed reservoir with a viewing window of Si3N4 or SiO2 membrane. The relatively thick (50-100 nm) and heavy element windows reduce the resolution and quality of the imaging. On the other hand due to extreme hydrophobicity of the conventional membrane, it is extremely challenging to perform liquid phase EM in hydrophilic solvents. This is a major obstacle to achieve one of the ultimate goals of EM in liquid phase, which is imaging live biological samples in water-based solvents.
Studying the Interaction of Customized Carbon Nano-structures through Atomically Thin Structures
The project is planning to investigate different possibilities for non-destructive (indirect) modification of boron nitride and/or carbon nanostructures. Developing a non-destructive modification approach for nanostructures would be beneficial for different application, specifically when the electron transport or mechanical properties of the nanostructure is one of the key factors of the desired application.