Coherent and Incoherent Control in Material Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


Proposed are three studies that combine new directions in control theory of
complex systems with a rich education and outreach program and several collaborative projects
with di�erent experimental groups. The �rst study builds on the success of previous NSF-
supported research, where the PI introduced an approach to coherent control of transport via
semiconductor-based molecular-scale electronics as a route to circumventing the di�culties asso-
ciated with conventional, metal-based molecular-scale electronics that were noted in the previous
experimental literature. The proposed research goes beyond her earlier, fully analytical solution,
which was restricted to the 1- and 2-site bridge cases and to Markovian dynamics, by developing
a numerical method and applying it to explore memory e�ects and multiple-site dynamics.
The second research direction introduces a new approach to understanding transport junc-
tions, namely, current-induced Raman spectroscopy. It suggests the potential interest of this
observable as a route to enlisting the chemical sensitivity of Raman spectra to accurately char-
acterize the structure and chemical composition of molecular-scale junctions, and the transport
and current-driven dynamics they exhibit. Also proposed are the development and application
of a theory and a corresponding numerical method to determine, within a uniform approach,
the transport, current-driven dynamics and Raman spectra �rst for a simple adsorbed diatomic
molecule and next for a reduced dimensionality model of rhodamine 6G/silver. This study would
serve to guide an experiment to be carried out as the next stage.
The third proposed research direction introduces a new control concept, namely, quantum
optimal environment engineering. The PI proposes application of the new control avenue to
guide and manipulate charge transfer reactions with a view to enhancing the e�ciency of dye-
sensitized solar cells. More generally, this research aims to develop and apply a theory and
a numerical method to optimize, enhance and control reaction outcomes and pathways using
reagents that are less costly than coherent light, hence a potential route to economically viable
The intellectual merit of the proposed activities derives from the combination of formalism
development, numerical method development, and two new ideas, all of which are expected to
generate new knowledge. The collaboration of the PI with several experimental groups would
give the work further intellectual merit and is expected to bene�t the research experience of
students in both experimental and theoretical groups.
Broader impact is expected to ensue the continued engagement of the PI in a large variety
of outreach and teaching activities, several of which are tied with the proposed research program.
New activities are currently planned, as the PI begins to serve as International Outreach Direc-
tor of Northwestern's Materials Center. These add to continuation of existing activities such
as participation in the Summer Research Opportunities Program for minority undergraduate
students (SROP), and the Research Experience for Undergraduates and for Teachers Programs
(REU and RET, respectively); formation and direction of two international student exchange pro-
grams; collaborative curriculum development with a teacher at a south Chicago college; guidance
of numerous undergraduate students and several high school students; and delivery of lectures
about nanotechnology to the elderly and to children. Furthermore, the numerical code that wil
Effective start/end date7/1/156/30/18


  • National Science Foundation (CHE-1465201)


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