Fundamental Research

The overall theme of our research program is understanding fundamental principles governing the coexistence of and correlations among different properties in complex nanostructured materials, which are often considered to be mutually exclusive. Simultaneous control of multiple functionalities at the nanoscale could lead to radically new approaches to energy conversion, and sustainable energy-efficient information technologies, photonics, and catalysis.

We apply interdisciplinary approach to investigate multifunctionality at the nanoscale, and the application of multifunctional nanostructures for energy-efficient and sustainable technologies.

 

Defect formation and interactions in reduced dimensions

Native defects are often a source of unusual properties in solid state materials. The control of the type and concentration of native defects in colloidal nanocrystals is poorly understood, due in part to their small volumes, and the difficulty in controlling the defect formation in a solution environment. In this avenue of my research program we use a variety of spectroscopic
techniques and theoretical modelling to understand the behavior of point defects in reduced
dimensions.

Growth and phase transformation of complex oxide nanostructures

Manipulation of the crystal structures has important implications for the design and preparation of new solid-state materials. Expanding the structural diversity of the existing materials provides an opportunity to manipulate their functional properties. We seek to understand the metastable
phase stabilization and the mechanism of phase transformation of nanostructures during their growth.

Unconventional metal oxide plasmonic nanostructures

Native defect sites in transparent metal oxides (TMOs) are implicated in their electrical conductivity, rendering colloidal TMO nanocrystals promising building blocks for multifunctional optoelectronic structures and devices. Our focus in this area is to understand the electronic structure, and manipulate the optical and electrical properties of different types of plasmonic metal oxide nanocrystals.

Expanding electrical and magnetic properties of nanostructures

Mutual control of electric and magnetic properties of nanomaterials promises an increase in data storage density and in the speed of data processing, while reducing the energy consumption. We are developing new magnetic semiconductor and ferroelectric (multiferroic) nanostructures, and applying to a unique combination of spectroscopic and physical methods to understand function-function correlation in these complex materials.

Hybrid nanostructures as an alternative route to multifunctionality

Organic and biological molecules are versatile, synthetically “tailorable”, and may be designed to exhibit a variety of physical properties, some of which may not be achievable for pristine inorganic materials. We are designing new hybrid organic-inorganic nanostructures, and investigating electronic coupling between nanoscale materials and molecular adsorbates, as an alternative route to multifunctionality in reduced dimensions.