Physics Colloquium: How an Interest in π-systems Led to a Career in Quantum and Quantum in three Dimensions
Dr. Tina Brower-Thomas, Howard University
Abstract: Self-assembled conjugated π-systems, such as aromatic thiols, on gold substrates buoyed the field of molecular electronics and offered a unique solution to some of the challenges faced by the semiconductor industry. Another π-system that holds even a greater promise is graphene, a single atom thick layer of carbon atoms. In fact, the impact of the successful exfoliation of graphene from bulk graphite has left an indelible mark on several fields, including condensed matter physics, chemistry, and materials science. Although graphene possesses some promising properties, such as high mobility and high thermal conductivity, graphene’s lack of a bandgap and magnetic properties has impeded its use in a variety of industrial applications, including electronics and spintronics. My group aims to functionalize graphene, improving graphene’s function without fundamentally affecting its desirable properties. Although theoretical reports of graphene’s interaction with transition metal (TM) and alkali ions (AI) show a retention of graphene’s properties upon the adsorption of these atoms, experimental approaches are needed to substantiate these theoretical works. Motivated by a lack of comprehensive experimental work in this field, we have been investigating the interaction of TM and AI with the surface of graphene using chemical and electrochemical reactions. Finally, I am setting up a microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition system that will be coupled to x-ray diffraction at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Synchrotron Source for in-situ x-ray growth studies of diamond growth. In addition to discussing our work in the field, we will also discuss our contributions in quantum education and work force development.