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Building a pressure cell to apply hydrostatic pressure

From an interview with Meera Chandrasekhar, Professor of Physics

Chandrasekhar and Uma Venkateswaran, her graduate collaborator, designed and built a low-temperature pressure cell to conduct optical studies on semiconductor heterostructures. The device can apply pressures up to 1 million pounds per square inch, changing the energy levels so that the researchers can study the properties of these materials.

Quantum mechanics 101

From an interview with Meera Chandrasekhar, Professor of Physics

“As an electron travels around, it keeps bumping into stuff,” Chandrasekhar offers as a simple explanation. “So the behavior of the electron gets defined not just by all the other stuff around it, but by the fact that it is bumping into the edges” of different materials. Quantum mechanics helps to explain the different kinds of behaviors that occur when dealing with very small scales.

Chandrasekhar’s contribution to the study of semiconductors

From an interview with Meera Chandrasekhar, Professor of Physics

All of this background history is necessary in order to appreciate the important contributions Chandrasekhar has made to this field. That is, once people realized that these “bologna and cheese” heterostructures could be reliably constructed, a whole bunch of new questions arose. This is where Chandrasekhar’s research comes into play. “We don’t really ‘grow’ the devices…or even the materials,” she stipulates. “The work we do is on studying the properties of these devices: how to control them, what drives them, how far you can be off and still be within your range.”

Types of radiation and their uses

From an interview with Silvia Jurisson, Professor of Chemistry