Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1998, Physics
M.S., University of California, Berkeley, 1995, Physics
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1990, Physics
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1990, Electrical Engineering
At the nanometer scale, the electronic properties of materials can be very unusual. Atomic copper wires, for example, are not very useful conductors, and atomic magnetic bits lose their memory too quickly to be used for storing bits and bytes. The key difference is that at the nanometer scale, so few atoms are involved that these materials don't always behave in the ways that we expect.
This difference is due to the importance of quantum physics at the nanometer scale. In their bulk forms, most materials are well understood. But at the nanoscale, everything changes, sometimes to make the material better and sometimes for the worse. The effects of quantum physics and the severe confinement of conduction electrons can lead to very unusual electronic effects!
Professor Collins' research group focuses on the electronic properties of devices and circuits made with novel, nanometer-scale objects. These objects include carbon nanotubes, metal and semiconductor nanowires, clusters, and even biological molecules. As our understanding of these materials grows, we can use each as a building block to make more complex (or more interesting) circuits.
These "nano-circuits" test our understanding of electronics at the ultimate limits of single molecules. Is Ohm's Law true for a molecule? Where does the resistance come from? We can directly test quantum physics and watch these systems evolve towards classical behaviors of voltage and resistance, with a few surprises along the way!