Cluster 4

The Physics of Single-Atom-Thick Sheets

Jairo Velasco Jr., PhD
UCSC Department of Physics
Aiming Yan, PhD
UCSC Department of Physics

Prerequisites: Chemistry and Pre-Calculus

Preferred: Physics

Summary: 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.

All students in this cluster will be enrolled in the following courses:

Arrangement of Atoms in Single-Atom-Thick Sheets

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

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 mini project, 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.