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Quantum size effects in nanostructured materials

Research project P5/01 (Research action P5)

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Nanoscience is an important emerging field of research and development focusing on the study of artificially fabricated structures in the nanometer range (0.1 - 100 nm). The shrinking sizes of structures will lead to a whole new world of quantum phenomena actively made use of in electronic, magnetic and optical devices. Many future applications in telecommunication, computing information systems and biomaterials will be based on research in nanoscale technologies.

In many countries programmes and initiatives on nanostructured materials have started. In Belgium, nanoscience and technology is still in an initial stage and urgent action is needed if Belgium wants to obtain a key position in this new technological era and within the related Thematic Priority of the European Community FP6. To lay the foundation of a nanoscience network several Belgian centers of excellence join forces in this proposal to investigate the fundamentals of quantization and confinement phenomena in nanostructured materials.

For the implementation of a new generation of nanoscale devices, a coherent control of quantum mechanical states is of primary importance. However, the use of quantum mechanics to tailor the electrical, magnetic and optical properties in nanostructures is a very challenging problem. Indeed, how to introduce and to modulate artificially the confinement of charges and spins in order to achieve the properties needed for different applications?

The basic idea of our proposal is to design and to implement a confinement pattern, which will lead to controlled quantum effects and the desired physical properties. The main activities are centered on semiconducting quantum dots, metallic clusters, heterostructures, superconducting and magnetic nanosystems, carbon nanosystems and self-assembled (in)organics. Self-assembly as well as electron beam lithographic techniques will be used to fabricate the systems; characterization techniques down to the atomic scale will be implemented.

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