Cluster 4: The Physics of Single-Atom-Thick Sheets

Prerequisite: Chemistry and Pre-Calculus (Physics preferred but not required)

Crystal Structure-the arrangement of atoms within a material-governs the electrical, chemical, and mechanical properties of a material. Thus, by studying a material’s crystal structure one can understand and potentially design new material properties. Single-atom-thick sheets offer an exciting material platform in which the understanding and manipulation of crystal structure can lead to the development of numerous technological applications such as ultra-fast transistors, flexible electronics, and novel composites. We will introduce the basic properties of single-atom-thick sheets and demonstrate the applications of these exciting materials through lectures, invited talks from experts, field trips, and in-class activities.

Arrangement of Atoms in Single-Atom-Thick Sheets

Instructor: Jairo Velasco Jr, PhD (Physics)

All things we see and touch in our daily life are composed of atoms that cannot be seen with our naked eyes. How the atoms are arranged in the “thing” (or “material”) dictates its macroscale physical properties. This course will first introduce the fundamentals of crystallography- the direct way to depict the order and symmetry in the arrangement of atoms in materials. Then this fundamental understanding of crystallography will be applied to a special and exciting category of materials- two-dimensional (2D) materials, where one dimension of the materials is limited to only one or a-few-atom thick. In the end, the lecture will focus on how the arrangement of atoms can be “seen” and manipulated via different state-of-the-art experimental tools. Field trips to labs or facility centers where these experimental tools are hosted will be arranged. During these field trips, students will have opportunities to observe in real time how the atoms are being “seen” with the help of the most advanced technology in the world.

Electricity in Single-Atom-Thick Sheets

Instructor: Aiming Yan, PhD (Physics)

The focus of this course is to introduce the fundamentals of electricity in single-atom-thick sheets also known as 2D materials. Understanding electricity in these materials requires delving into the world of nanoscience and quantum mechanics. Lectures will focus on developing a background in these topics and discussing the exotic and useful electrical properties that 2D materials host. These properties have poised 2D materials as exciting platforms for discovering new physics and developing novel technological applications. An emphasis will be made on the experimental tools that enable investigation of 2D materials and their alluring electrical properties. Field trips to state-of-the-art labs, hands-on experiments, and invited guest lectures from researchers in the field will provide direct insight into cutting edge 2D materials related research.

Students will also carry out a miniproject, in which they investigate the application of 2D materials to address real-life problems such as energy storage, DNA sequencing, next generation electronics and many more.

Transferable Skills: Tools for Success

It may or may not surprise you that being a university researcher requires a whole host of skills outside of the specific scientific knowledge required of your chosen discipline or specialty. It requires communication skills such as the ability to present your work in writing and orally. It requires competencies in the realm of information technology including the ability to find and judge (the validity of) information and use a variety of hardware and software tools (e.g. spreadsheets, databases, statistics software, other data manipulation tools). It requires all of those skills to effectively conduct research such as data collection, analysis and interpretation, critical thinking and problem solving as well as the ability to conduct laboratory and/or field work. And, of course, a baseline competency in English, science, mathematics and computers is critical.  The governing mission of the UCSC COSMOS Transferable Skills course is to promote students’ future academic (and professional) success through the exploration and development of transferable skills: i.e. those competencies that students develop while in school which facilitate academic achievement, the eventual transition into the work-force and which are applicable in many other life situations.