CBES Investigators

Mark Ratner

Yuri Berlin

Research Professor

Bryan Lau

PhD Candidate

Research Overview


Ratner Group, in Collaboration with Szleifer and Whitesides

Functioning devices at the nano and meso scales, that mimic living microorganisms, require the use of electrical and protonic currents for information exchange, mechanical motion, and power generation, among others. Therefore, understanding and controlling  charge transport through nano-structures are main objectives of the Ratner group, as part of the CBES.

Molecules convert electricity into photons and phonons (heat), What molecules can be useful for electronics? What bio-inspired molecules can achieve the opposite behaviour (convert heat and light into electricity)?

Using the newest tools of computational modelling in physical chemistry, we are studying the conductivity properties of molecules in differing nanoscale conditions. One of the objectives is to propose molecules that can yield motional properties for information processing and mechanical energy transfer at the molecular scale; this will also involve discovering and refining the proper rules describing these molecules. Another objective is finding molecular structures, analogous to those in living organisms, that are able to convert solar radiation into electrical power with high efficiency.

Thermal and quantum noises are problematic features of many systems found in nature. We are investigating the characteristics of systems capable of transforming and rectifying electronic currents (allowing electronic motion in only one direction) using quantum effects, i.e. quantum ratchets. One fascinating aspect of out-of-equilibrium quantum dynamics is that conversion of heat into of electricity is allowed, and we are exploiting this to propose novel mechanisms and materials for energy generation.