U.Va. Hosts National Nanotech Conference
Photo by Alicia Goodman
U.Va.’s NanoQuEST (Nanoscale and Quantum Engineering, Science & Technology) Institute recently hosted a national conference focused around device engineering research at the nanoscale level. Microelectronic devices have been on a miniaturization trend since the 1970s, and will soon scale down to measurements of only a few molecules. The 4th Annual Molecular Conduction and Sensors Workshop presented an opportunity for discussion about the challenges and opportunities within this rapidly growing and changing field.
The workshop took place at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel from July 26-28 and was jointly sponsored by U.Va.’s NanoQuEST Institute and Purdue University. Avik Ghosh, assistant professor in electrical engineering and Nathan Swami, graduate program director and assistant professor in electrical & computer engineering, organized the event in conjunction with Professors David Janes and Ashraf Alam at Purdue.
James Aylor, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Robert Hull, director of NanoQuEST provided welcoming remarks for the event. The 3-day conference featured talks by prominent researchers such as Supriyo Dutta (Purdue) and Theresa Mayer (Penn State) as well as graduate student poster sessions and tutorial presentations that assessed the advancements in the field over the last decade.
The 85 attendees included 30 graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty from colleges and research centers nation-wide, including U.Va., Purdue, Northwestern, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. In addition, the conference drew international participants from Canada, Taiwan, Ireland and Italy.
Smitha Vasudevan, graduate student in electrical engineering at U.Va., attended the conference. “The technical sessions were very informative, and the interactive nature of the workshop made for some interesting and useful discussions,” says Vasudevan.
Neeti Kapur, graduate student in chemical engineering at U.Va., presented two posters at the workshop. One details “the electrical characteristics of a new and unique rectifying molecule,” while the other examines the theoretical basis of Rice University research on molecular assisted field effect transistors. The posters are based on collaborative research and with the assistance of Kapur’s advisor, Matthew Neurock, professor of chemical engineering. Kapur welcomed the chance to participate in the event, “These workshops are always a great way to interact with other researchers in this field to gain insights and get feedback.”
The 1st Annual Molecular Conduction and Sensors Workshop was held at Purdue in 2003. Ghosh comments on the evolution of the research since then, “We seem to be reaching a better understanding of the science behind molecular electronics, and a better convergence of experiment and theory.”
The implications of hosting such a workshop at U.Va. may be far-reaching, “As a result of this conference we anticipate closer collaborations with the NASA Nanoelectronics Institute (INAC), Purdue's nanoHUB, and within the university itself, to apply our critical mass to address the pressing technological issues of molecular electronics and scientific issues of single-molecule sensitivity,” notes Swami.