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Pitt Researchers to Join NSF Materials Center Studying Two-Dimensional Metals

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 19, 2020) — The Nanoionics and Electronics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has received $557,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its work investigating a new type of two-dimensional material.

The six-year funding will enable Pitt researchers to explore atomically thin metals, also known as two-dimensional (2D) metals. The project is part of the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC), at the Penn State University Center for Nanoscale Science.

At Pitt, the project, “Two-dimensional Polar Metals and Heterostructures,” is led by Associate Professor, Susan Fullerton, and Visiting Research Assistant Professor Ke Xu, both in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

“Our collaborators at Penn State have invented a novel way to confine metals into 2D sheets using graphene - a single atomic layer of carbon atoms,” explained Fullerton. “Here at Pitt, we will use ions to control charge in these 2D metals, which we expect to reveal all sorts of new and unique properties owing to their extreme confinement.”

The group will work with researchers at Penn State, led by Joshua Robinson, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Jun Zhu, Professor of Physics. Together, they will pioneer new methods of encasing 2D metals in graphene, which will enhance its optical properties and make it useful for applications in biosensing and quantum devices.

"Tuning the charge with ions provides a possible pathway to strongly tune electron oscillations in the 2D metals - something that is very difficult to do with conventional approaches," explained Xu. "We aim to develop new, nonlinear optical materials in this collaboration, which could benefit the development of ultrafast switches, optical computers, and sensors."

Author: Maggie Pavlick

Contact: Maggie Pavlick