First to get a taste of the type of science we do, why not take a 45s speed-tour of the Micro-Femto Energetics Lab? [Video credit: Kyle T. Vogt, ufE LabPhD Scientist]
We call our research group the Micro-Femto Energetics Lab. This means we investigate how (and if) electrons in new nanoscale devices and materials can be harvested for energy generation, light emission, or electronic applications. We do this by effectively filming what happens to electrons after they get excited by light. By 'filming' how electrons move and relax in nanomaterials, we find out how to avoid bottlenecks that would ultimately limit the efficiency of a solar cell produced. Since electrons are both very small and move very fast, in order to film electrons new solar cell materials, we require sub-micrometer (<10-6 m) spatial resolution and femtosecond (10-15 s) time resolution. Hence the our lab's name, "the Micro-Femto Energetics Lab" or simply the μ f E Lab.
How do the physical properties of matter change as materials get small? The μ f E lab is able ‘to film’ the excited electron’s energetic journey from light absorption to photocurrent generation with sub-micron (<10-6 m) spatial resolution and femtosecond (<10-15 s) time-resolution. By 'filming' how electrons move and relax at nanoscale interfaces, we identify the bottlenecks that inherently limit the efficiency of solar voltaics and photosensors.
We investigate energy/current generation and transport at novel material interfaces. With micro-femto precision, we can resolve the electron's journey from initial excitation until current generation. The μ f E Lab will apply these unique measurement tools to a host of emerging materials including 1D/2D nanostructures,organic photovoltaics and biological systems. Our goal is to understand and control the processes drive light, energy and current extraction at nanoscale interfaces. Through this we can intelligently engineer next-generation optoelectronics and solar voltaics that fully exploit the unique physical properties of nanomaterials.
Graham lab resolves electron dynamics in single grains of graphene . . . but there is a twist! How do the physical properties of bulk materials change as they get small? To better answer such questions Professor Matt Graham’s Micro-Femto Energetics lab at Oregon State is able ‘to film’ the photoexcited electronic journey with both micron (<10-6 m) spatial resolution and femtosecond (10-15 s) time-resolution. By 'filming' the journey of photoexcited electrons from light absorption to electron extraction, we can identify electronic recombination bottlenecks that control the photoconversion efficiency of next-generation solar voltaic and fast photosensor materials.
Recently Graham lab graduate student Hiral Patel and collaborators have applied such “micro-femto” approaches to examine the interlayer electronic interactions in bilayer 2D materials such as graphene. In her paper published in Nano Letters, Hiral Patel looks at photoexcitations in bilayer graphene when it is stacked at a twisted angle. Previously it was known that the interlayer 2p orbitals will rehybridize to give absorption resonances that are tunable with the bilayer stacking angle. However, Hiral proved that these optical resonances are actually strongly bound exciton states. Even more surprising, she shows how the remarkable symmetry of this material results in decoupling of lowest lying excitons from the graphene electron continuum through a physical phenomenon known as a “ghost-Fano” resonance effect. The is the first known 2D (or 3D) metallic material that can also form stable, strongly bound excitons. Hiral presented this work orally at APS and Graphene Week in Manchester, UK. She was also awarded the OSA Optical Materials Group Best Poster Prize at the CLEO Conference in San Jose. Hiral has further discoveries for this remarkable material under peer review. Stay tuned!
Absorptive movies of suspended graphene captuere a new kinetic relaxation route
Our ultrafast ‘movies’ give a time-space resolved microscopy map of the electronic population in materials such as graphene, carbon nanotubes and single atomic layer dichalcogenides devices.