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Center for Quantum Materials

The Center for Quantum Materials provides a physical platform with state-of-the-art equipment and expertise to enhance the research and technology development in graphene and related two-dimensional (2D) materials. It also coordinates the theoretical and experimental research activities currently conducted in individual research groups. Through this platform, research projects in different departments throughout the university can be coherently planned and integrated.  

The management committee for the Center for Quantum Materials is comprised of:

  • Prof. Ning Wang, Director (Department of Physics)
  • Prof. Kam Tuen Law, Associate Director (Department of Physics)
  • Prof. Zhiyong Fan (Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering)
  • Prof. Zhengtang Luo (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)
  • Prof. Ping Sheng (Department of Physics)
  • Prof. Jiannong Wang (Department of Physics)

Research is being carried out by members of the Center for Quantum Materials in the following areas:

Graphene and 2D materials fabrication/synthesis

HKUST researchers have an impressive record of developing new methodologies for controlled fabrication of 2D materials. The aim of this effort is to develop fabrication techniques that produce 2D materials with desirable morphologies, atomic structures and targeted properties. These 2D materials will be used as functional building blocks for targeted applications. Some outstanding research has already been carried in the following areas:  

  • Chemical-vapor-deposition (CVD) growth of high quality graphene and growth mechanism on different substrates
  • Control of morphology of graphene and property modification.
  • Molecular-beam-epitaxy (MBE) growth of graphene and topological insulators such as nanostructured Bi2Te3, FeTe thin films.
  • Micro-mechanical exfoliation of graphene and 2D materials.

Property characterization in novel structures of 2D materials

HKUST has developed expertise in the characterization of graphene and 2D materials based on different technologies (e.g. electron microscopy, measurement of optical, electrical, thermal, magnetic properties). An important rationale for studying 2D materials is their novel properties (electronic, optical, mechanical, magnetic, chemical) stemming from their quantum size effects. The properties are important for establishing the link between novel nano science and the appropriate applications. We will undertake a comprehensive and systematic study of the properties of 2D materials and the parameters that determine these properties. Further developments will be made in areas such as cryogenic temperatures and ultrahigh magnetic fields, quantum transport, mechanical properties, etc. We will also develop new nanostructure characterization methods based on quantum information, many body theories, elastic electron scattering and multiple scattering theories. Examples of accomplishments in this area include the following: 

  • Spontaneous vortex dynamics in superconducting FeTe thin films.
  • Two-dimensional superconductivity at the interface of a Bi2Te3/FeTe heterostructures.
  • Quantum transport study of 2D topological insulators.
  • Monolayer semiconducting transition metal dichalcogenides.
  • Electron localization in metal-cluster-decorated graphene.
  • Bond disorder induced by e-beam irradiation in graphene.
  • Resonant states and negative compressibility in graphene. 

Theory and modeling

Due to the complexity of 2D quantum materials, atomic-scale theory and modeling must be an integral part of the research in this emerging field. Theory and computer simulation of the extraordinary properties in this kind of material can underpin experiment in several crucial ways, such as through modeling to capture the underlying principles of electron behavior, predicting properties of new device structures or new compositions and geometries, and extracting fundamental information from experiment.

HKUST has strong theoretical research groups in the Department of Physics and Department of Mathematics.  Mathematical methods (e.g., density functional formalism and tight-binding Hamiltonians) have been well developed and will be used to study the structural, energetic, chemical, electronic, lattice dynamical, optical, and transport properties of different 2D materials. Collaboration between theoretical and experimental groups will enhance the design and understanding of 2D nanostructures to be developed and studied experimentally. Ongoingtheoretical efforts are being carried out on the following topics: 

  • Topological Superconducting Phase Transition
  • Majorana Doublets in Time-Reversal Invariant Topological Superconductors
  • Realization of 2D Spin-orbit Interaction and Exotic Topological Orders in Cold Atoms
  • Large-scale Mesoscopic Transport in Nanostructured Graphene.
  • Quantum transport characteristics in antidot graphene 

Application and device concepts

Graphene’s extraordinary properties offer great opportunities for future technological application. In HKUST, research groups from the Department of Chemistry, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have been actively pursuing applications research and development of 2D materials, such as the following:

  • Graphene reinforced nanocoposites,
  • Graphene papers and graphene films for transparent conductors.
  • Carbon and 2D materials for renewable energy systems: Li ion batteries, Li air batteries, super-capacitors.
  • Application of graphene in rechargeable batteries.
  • Application of graphene and graphene oxides for chemical sensing.