Michigan Tech Research Magazine 2011 has three features on physics research this year. Left is Ranjit Pati, whose research team built a molecular computer using lessons learned from the human brain. In the middle are David Nitz and Brian Fick, who are corecipients of Michigan Tech’s 2010 Research Award in the fields of experimental particle physics and ultrahigh energy cosmic rays. On the right are boron nitride nanotubes representing the precision experimental work of Yoke Khin Yap and his research team.
Who ever would have guessed that the business end of Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils would someday be the next big thing?
John Jaszczak, perhaps. He was not all that surprised that the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was presented to two Russian-born scientists who created atom-thin sheets of carbon, called graphene, made from graphite. Jaszczak, a professor of physics and adjunct curator of the Seaman Mineral Museum, is a longtime fan of the mineral and was familiar with their prize-winning work. In fact, he supplied the researchers, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester, with graphite crystals to use in their experiments. And, he appears as a coauthor on one of their papers, “Giant Intrinsic Carrier Mobilities in Graphene and Its Bilayer,” published in Physical Review Letters.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking input to the development of a revised Strategic Plan for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), planned for release in December 2010. In response to the Request for Information (RFI), theMaterials Research Society (MRS) organized a task force preparing professional input to the NNI Strategic Plan. Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Yoke Khin Yapserved as a task force member and sub-group leader to discuss and prepare the MRS input. The majority of the work was conducted using an MRS online collaboration project site.
Dr. Yap was responsible for preparing input about future NNI investments. Among the questions posted to the task force were:
- What types of research and development investments should the NNI agencies create, sustain, and/or expand to achieve the NNI goals?
- What is the appropriate balance for investment in nanotechnology among US private and public entities (i.e., government, corporate R&D, and venture capital) to achieve the NNI goals?
A team of researchers from Japan and Michigan Technological University has built a molecular computer using lessons learned from the human brain.
Physicist Ranjit Pati of Michigan Tech provided the theoretical underpinnings for this tiny computer composed not of silicon but of organic molecules on a gold substrate. “This molecular computer is the brainchild of my colleague Anirban Bandyopadhyay from the National Institute for Materials Science,” says Pati. Their work is detailed in “Massively Parallel Computing on an Organic Molecule Layer,” published April 25 online in Nature Physics.
Researchers in the US and Sweden have characterized from first principles the physisorption of nucleobases with boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) by employing density functional theory.
Nanotechweb.org, April 6, 2010
Computational Solid State Theory & Materials Science Group
Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are the divas of the nanoworld. In possession of alluring properties, they are also notoriously temperamental compared to their carbon-based cousins.
On the plus side, they can withstand incredibly high heat, well over 1,100 degrees Celsius, says Yoke Khin Yap, an associate professor of physics at Michigan Technological University. “Carbon nanotubes would burn like charcoal in a barbecue at half of those temperatures,” he says. And the electrical properties of BNNTs are remarkably uniform. Perfect insulators, boron nitride nanotubes could be doped with other materials to form designer semiconductors that could be used in high-powered electronics.