Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, & Discovery of Interface Materials

An NSF Materials Innovation Platform


PARADIM, the Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials, is a new national user facility at Cornell dedicated to the discovery and fabrication of materials with unprecedented properties that do not exist in nature. We are seeking six REU interns interested in not only growing new materials targeted by PARADIM users, but also in optimizing and improving the techniques used to grow, characterize, and provide theoretical guidance leading to their discovery and optimization. Molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) and MOCVD (metal-organic chemical vapor deposition) are state-of-the-art thin film growth techniques with atomic precision, and we have unique systems with world class capability. Electronic and structural properties are characterized at PARADIM using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES), x-ray diffraction (XRD), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Specifically, PARADIM REU students will use first principles techniques to provide theoretical guidance in the design of oxides and chalcogenides, they will synthesize oxides and chalcogenides in thin film form using MBE and MOCVD, they will characterize them using ARPES and XRD, and they will improve PARADIM hardware and capabilities.

2018 PARADIM REU Projects

MBE growth/system development and XRD characterization

Mentor: Hanjong Paik

Oxides exhibit an unparalleled variety of electronic properties and PARADIM users are continually coming up with new arrangements of atoms, customized at the atomic-layer level, that their calculations predict will exhibit even better properties. It is a  major challenge, however, to produce these computationally predicted materials. As an REU student, you will be an integral member of the PARADIM thin film user facility team. You will work together with your mentor to attempt to make a new material envisioned by a PARADIM user using a thin film growth technique called molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE). To see if you and your mentor managed to get the atoms into the desired arrangement, you will characterize the film structure using x-ray diffraction (XRD) and the physical properties using electrical or magnetic characterization techniques. At first you will gain familiarity with MBE growth and XRD characterization by working together with your mentor. Once you have learned the operational details, you will become part of a team tasked to grow, characterize, and optimize a new material with potentially exciting properties that has been proposed by a PARADIM user.

MOCVD growth/system development and optical characterization

Mentor: Don Werder

Monolayer two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (2D-TMD) exhibit a plethora of physical properties such as superconductivity, semiconductivity, thermoelectricity, charge-density waves, quantum confinement, valleytronics and topological phases. The REU student will learn how to grow and characterize 2D-TMD materials by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) in support of PARADIM user projects. The student will work with PARADIM staff to grow 2D-TMD materials which could lead to improved physical properties and new applications. Initially, the student will work with their mentor to learn the growth technique and how to characterize the structure of the films grown. Eventually the student will be able work independently most of the time. As a member of the PARADIM thin-film user facility team (see Projects 1) the student will have opportunity to interact with a number of people with a broad experience in thin-film growth and characterization techniques.

MBE growth and ARPES analysis/system development

Mentor: Luca Moreschini

Angle-resolved photoemission (ARPES) is a spectroscopic technique for electronic structure determination based on the photoelectric effect. When a photon of light interacts with an atom, it can eject an electron with precisely defined energy and momentum. Using this information, ARPES provides the band structure of a solid, which is a map of the energy and velocity of its electrons. A new, integrated ARPES setup is being built at PARADIM that will allow ARPES experiments to be performed as films are grown by MBE or MOCVD.  This unique capability to dynamically assess the electronic structure during film growth is critical to rapidly improving our understanding of thin film properties. A setup of this kind involves both hardware and software development; it entails designing and mounting sophisticated vacuum equipment with motorized sample movement and valves with a myriad of software controls to ensure that the experiment runs smoothly. If you join this project, as a first step you will learn the basics of ARPES and learn to work with UHV (ultra-high vacuum) equipment. The project could then take a hardware-based focus, such as the conception of a sample transfer system, or a more software focus, such as the programming of an interlock system. If you select this project as one of interest, please indicate if you have a preference or hardware or software development.

First principles calculations and development

Mentor: Betül Pamuk

First principles methods, such as density functional theory (DFT), solve quantum mechanical systems at the level of electrons and atoms. DFT calculations provide information about ground state properties including atomic positions, lattice parameters, volume, bond lengths, electronic band structure, atomic forces, and phonon frequencies. Using the results of these calculations, it is possible to predict microscopic phenomena in a specific material. As an REU intern you will first learn how to use a DFT software package with your mentor. Once you have gained familiarity with the software and can run the simulations on your own, you will model the physical properties of a material of interest to a PARADIM project. Your theoretical predictions will be compared to experimental results and provide valuable guidance to PARADIM users.

PARADIM REU interns will receive a $5,000 stipend, housing, and up to $500 in qualified travel expenses. There are social gatherings and reasonably priced bus trips to NYS and Niagara Falls (optional/not a part of your financial package) designed to help you meet and make friends with the other ~100 REU students at Cornell. While we do not provide a meal plan, a great deal of free food is regularly available!

The 2018 program runs Tuesday, June 5th – Friday, August 10th, with interns arriving in Ithaca on June 2nd and departing on August 11th. This ten-week introduction to a scientific research career will culminate with a convocation to held jointly with the REU students from the Cornell NanoScale Facility (CNF). Each intern will give a final presentation and write a two-page report, due on August 11th, that will be posted on the PARADIM website. Projects are scaled to be challenging yet achievable within the program time frame.

PARADIM REU Program Application — CLOSED