Materials research is at the heart of many important challenges facing the nation and the world — from those concerning the more efficient use of energy to the development of a new generation of electronics. A defining feature of the research approach at PCCM are the three interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs) comprised of scientists and engineers from several Princeton departments. The IRGs are tight-knit collaborations among researchers with complementary expertise spanning materials synthesis, advanced characterization and theoretical modeling who work together to address challenges at the forefront of materials research. The PCCM seed program nucleates novel research directions and integrates new faculty into PCCM as leaders of a seed project.
IRG-1: TOPOLOGICAL PHASES OF MATTER AND THEIR EXCITATIONS
This research group seeks to expand the search for novel topological quantum properties of electrons in insulators, semiconductors and semimetals. This research is promising for enabling future electronics with ultra-low heat dissipation, and enabling novel approaches to quantum computing. Currently, the long-established Bloch theory of crystalline solids is undergoing revision because of topological principles neglected in Bloch theory. Semiconductors in which the energy gap is "inverted" (relative to the atomic limit) exhibit surface states occupied by massless Dirac fermions. Using scanning tunneling microscopy, transport and photoemission experiments, researchers will test key predictions of the new perspective, and search for new topological phases and excitations (e.g. Majorana fermions).
IRG-2: STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS IN CONFINED POLYMERS
This research group combines two new technologies that enable the growth of very thin polymer films with specialized physical properties critical for applications in many industries. One approach will apply a laser-ablation technique called MAPLE to grow and investigate ultrathin polymer films deposited under novel conditions that dramatically raise the glass-transition temperature. Combining expertise in fluorescence, nanoscale imaging and simulation, they will address the technologically important issue of why the thermodynamic properties (e.g. the glass transition) of confined polymers differ dramatically from those in bulk polymers.
IRG-3: DEVELOPMENT OF ULTRA-COHERENT QUANTUM MATERIALS
This research group addresses a challenging problem in the quest for quantum computing, namely how to couple well-separated qubits without losing quantum information. Applying recent advances, they will coherently couple spin qubits using microwave photons trapped in a high-Q superconducting resonator. A serendipitous benefit is the discovery of lasing action. In a parallel effort, experiments to achieve very long spin coherence lifetimes in isotopically pure silicon are proposed. Advances will lead to logic elements for quantum computing as well as a new class of broadly tunable lasers.
Professor Howard Stone's lab. Photo by Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy