In the Department of Physics, there are research laboratories for laser physics, photonics, thin-films, surfaces, interfaces, solid state properties, polymers and liquid crystals, optics, nanostructured layers and clusters, and non-linear dynamics.
Three of these laboratories are donated ones that form the nucleus of the Department's research activities. They are:
- the Zheng Ge Ru Thin Film Science Laboratory,
- the Joyce M. Kuok Laser and Photonics Laboratory, and
- the William Mong Solid State Clusters Laboratory
The Zheng Ge Ru Thin Film Science Laboratory
Activities in the Zheng Ge Ru Thin Film Science Laboratory focus on the physics of thin films. Results of work in this lab find application in fields such as microelectronics, information storage and retrieval, and miniaturized sensor manufacturing. In addition, nearly all industries that deal with metals are finding uses for the new techniques, as the application of protective thin film layers can inhibit or eliminate unwanted effects of corrosion, friction, and wear. Semiconductor thin films are the main focus of current research and work in the laboratory.
This laboratory is equipped with two molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems. One of the system is dedicated for growth and characterization of II-VI based semiconductor thin film structures. This system is equipped with in-situ surface analysis facilities (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Auger electron spectroscopy). The other MBE system is for the growth of III-V semiconductor structures with novel electronic transport and optical characteristics in the infra-red region of the energy spectrum. In addition to the MBE systems, a thin film evaporator and a complete Hall effect set-up have been installed and put to work. These items are useful in broadening research capabilities.
Novel nano-scaled structures have been developed in this laboratory; the best example is carbon nanotubes. The smallest single walled nanotubes (SWNTs) were produced in this lab. These SWNTs are well aligned in the channels of zeolite crystals. Their electric transport and magnetic properties have been studied as a function of temperature. The electrical transport at temperatures above 15K is found to be due to one-dimensional hopping of electrons in the metallic SWNTs. When the temperature is below 15K, the SWNTs are superconducting, characterized by the Meissner effect and supercurrent. Both the novel technique of CNT fabrication and the discovery of 1-D superconductivity received great international attention.
The Joyce M. Kuok Laser and Photonics Laboratory
The Joyce M. Kuok Laser and Photonics Laboratory provides state-of-the-art laser systems as well as advanced measurement techniques to support frontier research in advanced nonlinear optical and electro-optical materials, photonics, modern optics, as well as new laser systems. Research carried out in this laboratory is relevant to practical applications in high-tech areas such as telecommunications, optical computing, optical storage, and ultra-high speed information processing.
This laboratory has a wide range of laser systems that provides laser output with continuously tunable wavelength from ultraviolet to mid-infrared, spanning the spectral range from 0.2 to 10 microns and with laser pulse widths ranging from continuous waves to femtoseconds. This powerful capability is made possible due to a number of unique optical parametric amplifier and oscillator systems that are custom-designed, engineered, and constructed at HKUST. With this capability, the linear and nonlinear optical properties of new optical materials can be investigated efficiently and evaluated for potential applications in all the technologically important wavelength ranges, including those for telecommunication, medical, night surveillance, display, as well as basic research applications. This laboratory also houses state-of-the-art equipment for characterization and evaluation of new thin-film and fiber materials for implementation of Optoelectronic Integrated Circuit (OEIC) technology.
The William Mong Solid State Clusters Laboratory
Recent research in the William Mong Solid State Clusters Laboratory includes production, assembly, and properties of nanosize clusters and granular materials. The work has covered not only semiconducting and electro-optical materials but also magnetic and electro-rheological types. Thus, the number and type of equipment and expertise in the laboratory continue to increase.