Posted in | Quantum Physics

University of Arkansas Physicist Receives Grant to Investigate Quantum Dots

Hugh Churchill, an assistant professor of physics and director of the Quantum Device Laboratory at the University of Arkansas (U of A), has received a grant of $360,000 for studying semiconducting nanomaterials, which could lead to a new generation of electronic devices.

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The grant, awarded by The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, will be used to discover more about quantum dots, which are two-dimensional semiconductor devices.

These 2-D atomic materials provide the ingredients to make a wide variety of electronic and optoelectronic devices. They are flexible and nearly transparent and also have interesting physical properties. Layering these 2D materials on top of each other to create quantum effects gives us a new freedom in constructing materials.

Hugh Churchill, Director, Quantum Device Laboratory, U of A

Nanoscale optoelectronic and electronic devices are known as quantum devices. They have properties that can be enabled or augmented using the effects of quantum mechanics.  Quantum mechanics control the behavior of extremely small objects, low temperatures, and/or short times.

A common quantum effect is confinement, this is where electrons in a material are forced to occupy a small region. In quantum dot, confinement allows electrons to be removed or added one at a time from an electronic device.

Churchill's goals are to study the behavior of electrons in 2D materials, and to discover if a new property of electrons in the materials would be helpful to realize quantum information processing.

The grant, which will be disbursed over a period of three years, has been awarded through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program. This program supports engineers and scientists who have received doctorates or equivalent degrees in the past five years, and show promise and exceptional ability to conduct basic research.

Churchill has two advanced degrees in physics from the Harvard University. He was a Pappalardo Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and joined the U of A last fall. He hails from Conway, Arkansas.


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