The University of Washington Molecular Engineering Materials Center, an NSF MRSEC, executes fundamental materials research that aims to push the frontiers of science and accelerate the emergence of future advanced technologies. The Center’s research targets development of nanoscale materials that allow quantum interactions to be harnessed for use in new “spin-photonic” technologies such as quantum sensing. Additionally, the research addresses development of atomically thin and layered two-dimensional crystalline materials whose quantum properties are ultra-sensitive to external strain stimuli, to vastly expand the reach of quantum materials and thereby open new territory for advancing quantum and energy technologies. This research will lead to the discovery and development of new advanced materials, new experimental and theoretical capabilities, and new fundamental knowledge in quantum materials.
The Center’s research involves two synergistic interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs). The first IRG (IRG-1) aims to develop functional low-dimensional materials that harness cross-coupling between photons and electron spins — spin-photonic nanostructures — to enable future classical and quantum information processing, sensing, and photonics technologies, such as spin-photonic transduction, Faraday optical isolation, and quantum memory. The second IRG (IRG-2) builds and studies elastic quantum matter — materials with quantum properties that are ultra-sensitive to elastic strain , offering opportunities from all-mechanical control of magnetization and superconductivity to creation of phonon-magnon circuitry, dynamical Josephson junction arrays, and dynamically controlled catalysts.
Both groups integrate materials innovations with theory and computation, aided by a centralized Artificial Intelligence Core that develops algorithms and methodologies tailored to assist solution of real research problems. The Artificial Intelligence Core operates as part of the Center’s greater open-access shared user facilities. A competitive Seed program expands upon the Center’s core research goals by initiating new cutting-edge or high-risk research projects, recruiting new and underrepresented participants, and capitalizing on emerging strengths and opportunities.