Molecular Materials Topics at Texas Materials Institute

Our modern day society’s need for faster/more powerful computers and other consumer electronic devices has fueled the search for alternative electronic components in the area of “Molecular Materials.” Many scientists involved in this relatively new area of research believe that the initial applications of molecular systems will target the augmentation of conventional semiconductor systems, rather than the complete replacement of such structures. Indeed, exciting new research at UT in the interdisciplinary areas of insect infrared vision mimics and chemical/biochemical sensor arrays are currently underway as are more futuristic projects that target molecule-level information storage and manipulation. In the below paragraphs, short summaries of some of the current Molecular Materials thrust areas are provided.

Functional molecular assemblies
In addition to the obvious advantages related to small feature sizes, one of the most interesting and important attributes of molecular assemblies is the ability to apply rational synthetic control in the preparation of the structures. Recent developments in the area of synthetic organic and inorganic chemistries have enabled scientists to prepare a great number of interesting isolated molecular systems. These organized structures are found to respond to a variety of environmental, chemical, and biochemical stimuli and thereby relay information about the stimuli.

Imaging of molecular materials
After the formidable problems are solved related to the synthesis and organization of the components within the molecular assembly, it becomes necessary to define methods that are capable of “reading” the information that is encoded at the molecular level. A core team of world class researchers in the TMI have assembled a number of state-of-the-art imaging facilities in the areas of STM, AFM, UHV AFM/STM, and low temperature NSOM. These facilities have enabled the UT scientist to explore in a very precise manner the features of Molecular Materials.

Photonic and molecular wires
One of the basic building blocks for molecular devices and sensors is the wire. To create functional molecular devices, it is necessary that methods be developed that promote the communication between the molecular units. Likewise, one of the important initial steps towards the development of functional molecular electronic devices is the creation of an understanding of the electron/energy transport within these interesting assemblies. Members of the TMI faculty have established active programs designed to assess both the energy and electron transfer properties of molecular assemblies.

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