The ATOm-Scale Materials (ATOM) Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studies and engineers nanomaterials,
with unique and exceptional properties, that are at the extreme limit of matter— with one or more dimension reduced
to the scale of a single or a few atoms.
The group has a current focus on carbon-based nanostructures and related
materials (e.g. carbon nanotubes, which are seamless cylinders that measure only one billionth of a meter in diameter,
atomically thin sheets of graphene, nanostructured two-dimensional materials, molecules and polymers that are semiconducting,
and heterostructures that integrate ATOM-components with conventional, macroscopic materials).
The impact of nanomaterials on society has often been limited by materials science roadblocks.
Our research especially draws from multiple disciplines to address fundamental materials challenges –
in controlling the growth, processing, ordering, and heterogeneity of nanomaterials and in understanding
phenomena beyond the scale of single nanostructures – that must be overcome to exploit nanomaterials in technology.
When materials become ultrathin, new electronic and optoelectronic phenomena arise, materials become dramatically more mechanically resilient and deformable, and the flow of electrical charges and molecules can be more precisely controlled and sensitively detected. As a result, our research promises to result in:
- Higher-performance computer chips that extend Moore’s law and/or that consume less power;
- Lower power and higher bandwidth radio communications devices (e.g. for cell phones);
- Unconventional electronics that can be folded, stretched, and integrated on clothing or skin;
- Solar cells and photodetectors that are more efficient and sensitive;
- Artificial materials that rapidly and efficiently funnel energy in a fashion that mimics plants and bacteria;
- New and more selective biological and environmental sensors; and,
- Selectively permeable membranes for separating molecules (e.g. for water desalination) that are substantially thinner and more structurally precise than any existing membrane and thus dramatically more permeable, efficient, selective, and functional.