Researchers in nanoscience explore the ultrasmall world—ultracold atoms, quantum dots, molecules, semiconductors, electronic devices, and quantum devices. These things have dimensions that are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter—the size of a few atoms. Nanosized systems are so small that researchers must not only figure out how to create them, but also determine how they are affected by the laws of quantum mechanics. JILA's diverse nanoscience research encompasses investigations of innovative technologies for nanoscience research, model systems for studying nanoscale science and technology, the quantum mechanics of nanoparticles, nanostructures, nanoscale energy transport, and quantum devices. JILA researchers are looking for answers to such questions as:
- Can we create devices that use electron spins, quantum mechanical behavior, or mechanical vibrations to encode quantum information?
- Can we probe the behavior of excitons in semiconductor quantum wells to test fundamental theories of physics?
- Can we control ultrafast thermal and electronic responses in atoms, molecules, and materials with nanometer resolution?
- Can we build sensors based on biomolecules?
- How can we overcome the inherent difficulty of observing rapid dynamical motions that take place in nanoscale devices?
- How well do Bose-Einstein condensate systems model nanoscale electronic, atomic, and molecular interactions?