Meeting Information

Graphene: deep physics from the all-surface material

June 15, 2011
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: June 15, 2011

Speaker: Michael S. Fuhrer
Professor, Department of Physics, and
Director, Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials
University of Maryland at College Park

Time and Location: Talk starts at 1:00 PM with Q&A to follow. It will be held in one of the first floor conference rooms at the American Center for Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD. This is located off River Road, between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov for their experiments, conducted only six years earlier, which isolated and electrically probed graphene, a single atom-thick plane of graphite. In this talk I will try to give a sense of why graphene sparked, and continues to generate, such excitement in the community. In graphene, a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms, electrons behave as if they have no mass – they move at constant velocity regardless of their energy, and can never be stopped. Their motion is described not by the Schrodinger equation familiar to physics undergraduates, but rather the Dirac equation for massless particles, making graphene electrons more akin to neutrinos. Graphene is different, yet it is also strikingly simple, and hence it is often a testbed to demonstrate the most fundamental of condensed matter physics phenomena. In contrast with many other major fronts in condensed matter physics, theory and experiment on graphene often show strikingly good quantitative agreement. Graphene is also amazingly tunable: a bandgap in graphene can be generated and tuned by nanostructuring, or by application of perpendicular electric field in the case of bilayer graphene; interactions can be tuned by the surrounding dielectric medium; strain can be used to generate effective “pseudomagnetic” fields up to 300 Tesla; the workfunction can be tuned over a range greater than the difference between magnesium and gold. Such tunability promises that graphene will remain interesting for some time to come as a laboratory for understanding condensed matter physics.

Biography: Michael S. Fuhrer received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. He received his Ph. D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998 after doing research on electronic and thermal transport in High-Tc and fullerene superconductors with Prof. Alex Zettl. Prof. Fuhrer remained at Berkeley as a postdoctoral researcher with Profs. Alex Zettl and Paul McEuen, working on electronic transport in carbon nanotube devices. Prof. Fuhrer joined the faculty at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor in 2000, promoted to Associate Professor in 2005, and Full Professor in 2009. Prof. Fuhrer serves as Associate Director of the Maryland NanoCenter since 2007, and Director of the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials since 2009. Fuhrer is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Fuhrer’s research involves the physics of electronic devices constructed of nanoscale components, for example individual carbon nanotubes, two-dimensional graphene sheets, or thin crystals of layered transitional-metal chalcogenides. Prof. Fuhrer studied the first carbon nanotube heterojunctions, demonstrated the first carbon-nanotube-based single-electron memory device, and showed that the room-temperature mobility in semiconducting carbon nanotubes is the highest of any semiconductor. Recently, Fuhrer has measured the electronic properties of graphene, a single atom thick sheet of graphite. Fuhrer made the first measurement of charge carrier scattering in graphene from charged impurities, lattice defects, and lattice vibrations, and the first observation of the Kondo effect in graphene with defects. He has published over 70 papers in technical journals, and presented his research in more than 85 invited talks.