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Prof. Al-Amin Dhirani

University of Toronto

Date of Live Presentation: Thu, 19-Mar-2020
Location: University of Western Ontario


Nanostructures - building blocks for designer materials exhibiting exotic quantum behaviour


In his talk entitled, “There is plenty of Room at the Bottom”, Richard Feynman (Nobel prize winner for quantum electrodynamics) issued a challenge: “What would the properties of materials be if we could really arrange the atoms the way we want them? …When we get to the very, very small world---say circuits of seven atoms---we have a lot of new things that would happen that represent completely new opportunities for design…We can use, not just circuits, but some system involving the quantized energy levels, or the interactions of quantized spins, etc…” Nowadays, we know that nanostructures can be made with controlled properties, including quantized energy levels, spins, etc. Also, nanostructures are larger and easier to manipulate than atoms. Can we take up this challenge viewing nanostructures as “artificial” atoms, i.e. can we nanoengineer a material that exhibits an exotic quantum phenomenon that involves quantized energy levels, spins, etc such as strongly correlated electron motion? In this talk, I will explain what is strongly correlated electron motion, why it is of such great interest in condensed matter physics, why open questions in this area are difficult to address and how nanoengineering materials can help.

Short bio

Al-Amin Dhirani obtained his B.Sc. in physics from University of Alberta in 1986, his M.Sc. in quantum field theory from McGill University in 1991, and his Ph.D. in experimental surface physics from University of Chicago in 1996. He pursued postdoctoral studies in atom optics theory and experiment at MIT from 1996−1998. In 1999, he accepted an assistant professorship in the Chemistry Department at University of Toronto, and in 2004, he was promoted to associate professor. He is also cross-appointed to the Physics Department at University of Toronto. His current research focuses on electronic and optical properties of nanostructured materials.

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