FSU researchers receive NSF grant to investigate quantum effects in a potential hybrid semiconductor

Efstratious Manousakis (l) and Hanwei Gao (r) are partnering on an NSF grant to look at the quantum properties of perovskites.

A fascinating hybrid organic-inorganic compound has shown remarkable promise over the past few years as a material for light-emitting and solar devices.

But while researchers have rushed to fine-tune that material’s properties, it’s possible they missed out on a lot of other unique aspects to this compound, said Florida State University Associate Professor of Physics Hanwei Gao.

“People have been focused on LED or solar applications with halide perovskites,” Gao said. “But these materials have so many other interesting properties in terms of the physics, and we need to explore those.”

Gao and fellow FSU Professor of Physics Efstratios Manousakis have received a $483,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the underlying physics of halide perovskites in order to find additional uses for it.

Gao and Manousakis plan to zero in on the quantum effects in halide perovskites, particularly the potential to use it as a semiconductor.

The end goal is to develop a new type of semiconductor superlattice, which enables unusual electrical properties that one would not observe in naturally formed, conventional semiconductors.

Halide perovskites essentially self-assemble in layers or what’s called a superlattice. Most superlattices previously had to be carefully manufactured at considerable time and expense to achieve that atomic-precision layering.

“It’s almost like layers of lasagna except that it self-assembles,” Manousakis said. “It’s an ideal material to study interesting quantum phenomena related to their unique opto-electronic response.”

In addition to developing a new semiconductor, the researchers hope their work will pave the way to make future superlattice devices that are scalable and cost-effective.

Gao and Manousakis will be joined on the project by Professor Letian Dou from Purdue University. This funding (with an additional amount awarded to Purdue) will help support graduate students in all three of their research groups.

The project also will leverage comprehensive research capabilities provided by the condensed-matter and materials physics research facility and the microanalysis research facility in the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.

“These are not easy materials to handle, and collaboration is necessary for this type of complex research project,” Gao said. “I can’t think of a better team to tackle this.”