We are a research group led by Jeff Urban, director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In our lab, we investigate energy and mass transport at the nanoscale with a special focus on hybrid organic-inorganic materials and interfaces. This marriage of “hard” and “soft” materials presents an interesting contrast of transport modalities, bond strengths, mechanical properties, and the like. If we can apply understanding and design to these materials, we can harness advantages of both polymers and nanocrystals in one material, which presents many exciting opportunities to 1) study fundamental interfacial transport and 2) design novel tailored materials for broad applications.

On the measurement side, we are interested in studying the processes of charge and heat transport in solid-state devices using electronic and optical probes. Most of the intuition developed for these materials is rooted in continuum transport models, however, many interesting questions emerge at the nanoscale: what happens to heat transport when the active layers are less than an average mean free path? How does the physics of charge transport change in a p-n junction when the system size is smaller than a typical depletion length? Can creating chemically defined channels modify traditional tradeoffs between permeability and selectivity in dense materials?