Venkataraman Receives NSF Career Award

Latha Venkataraman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, has been awarded an NSF CAREER Award for $600,000 to study “Electronic and Mechanical Properties of Single Metal-Molecule-Metal Junctions.”

“The size of components in the integrated circuit industry is fast approaching the nanometer scale, requiring a detailed understanding of the fundamental properties at the single molecule level,” says Professor Venkataraman. “With the development of scanning probe tools over the last few decades, we now have the ability to investigate physical properties at the atomic level.”

Prof. Venkataraman’s focus will be to reveal and understand properties of single molecules attached to metal electrodes while educating students about the interplay of physics, chemistry and engineering at the nanoscale. Her group will build a high-resolution conducting atomic force microscope to simultaneously measure the rate at which electrons are transferred across a single molecule junction, as well as the forces required to break the junction apart. Measurements of different molecular systems will lead to an understanding, at the single molecule level of the mechanical forces required to break bonds as well as their electronic properties, a prerequisite to developing electronic circuitry at the molecular scale.

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