Universiteit Leiden

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Sense Jan van der Molen Lab (Physics of Quantum Materials)

In the Van der Molen lab, we investigate the properties of low-dimensional materials, with an enthusiastic scientific team. We focus on two types of quantum systems: one-dimensional and two-dimensional.

One-dimensional quantum systems
First, we investigate charge transport (conductance) through molecules. You can consider molecules as quasi one-dimensional quantum systems, with properties that are tunable by chemical synthesis. We have a specific interest in functional molecules, e.g. photochromic switches and spin-crossover compounds.

Two-dimensional quantum systems
Second, we study the electronic properties of and charge transport in quasi two-dimensional systems. The most famous of these is undoubtedly graphene--a carbon layer of exactly one atom thick. But there are many more, such as hexagonal BN and MoS2. Remarkably, such layers can be stacked to create novel materials--called Van der Waals materials--with properites that we may be able to tune! To reach that point one day, we are accurately studying the electronic interaction between different layers within Van der Waals materials. We have a unique way to do this, thanks to our low-energy electron microscope (LEEM), that we have adapted to our needs.

Our low-energy electron microscope (LEEM), is called ESCHER. Due to its aberration correction, it has a record lateral resolution of 1.4 nm. Still, our research program aims far beyond pure microscopy. One of our goals has been to make LEEM a key measurement system in condensed matter physics research as a whole and to use it for our research on Van der Waals materials, in particular thin oxides and molecular layers. Therefore we have recently introduced various new techniques:

  • LEEM-based potentiometry, by Johannes Jobst
  • Angle-resolved reflected-electron spectroscopy (ARRES
  • A novel form of transmission electron microscopy operating at very low energies (eV-TEM), by DaniĆ«l Geelen

As a result, 'LEEM' has become an umbrella term for a measurement system that incorporates a plethora of unique techniques that can be used in real-time (also including LEED, dark-field imaging and ARPES).


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