A hundred years ago, “2d” meant a two-penny, or 1-inch, nail. Today, “2-D” encompasses a broad range of atomically thin flat materials, many with exotic properties not found in the bulk equivalents of the same materials, with graphene – the single-atom-thick form of carbon – perhaps the most prominent. While many researchers at MIT and elsewhere are exploring two-dimensional materials and their special properties, Frances M. Ross, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is interested in what happens when these 2-D materials and ordinary 3-D materials come together.
“We’re interested in the interface between a 2-D material and a 3-D material because every 2-D material that you want to use in an application, such as an electronic device, still has to talk to the outside world, which is three-dimensional,” Ross says.
“We’re at an interesting time because there are immense developments in instrumentation for electron microscopy, and there is great interest in materials with very precisely controlled structures and properties, and these two things cross in a fascinating way,” says Ross.
“The opportunities are very exciting,” Ross says. “We’re going to be really improving the characterization capabilities here at MIT.” Ross specializes in examining how nanoscale materials grow and react in both gases and liquid media, by recording movies using electron microscopy. Microscopy of reactions in liquids is particularly useful for understanding the mechanisms of electrochemical reactions that govern the performance of catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and other important technologies. “In the case of liquid phase microscopy, you can also look at corrosion where things dissolve away, while in gases you can look at how individual crystals grow or how materials react with, say, oxygen,” she says.
Ross joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) faculty last year, moving from the nanoscale materials analysis department at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. “I learned a tremendous amount from my IBM colleagues and hope to extend our research in material design and growth in new directions,” she says.

Image Credit:   Frances M Ross MIT

Read more at nanowerk.com

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