Hari Manoharan

Associate Professor of Physics


Condensed Matter Physics

Throughout history, humans have sought to expand their mastery of the material world. Our ability to manipulate matter has been continuously refined, extending to constructions of colossal size and extreme complexity. Progress in the diametric direction of diminishing scale has proved increasingly vital to society. Well-known contemporary examples include the microelectronic and biotechnology industries. The efforts within these fields rely predominantly on new tools that extend control, and measurements, to progressively smaller length scales. Instead of this "top-down" approach, what if we proceed from the bottom and work our way up? For the first time, we are poised to explore critical science starting from the basic building blocks of matter—single atoms. So the question now becomes: rather than work our way down from the macroscopic level, what can we learn if we build up from the atomic realm? The answer, not surprisingly, seems both manifold and deep.

Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering

My research program seeks to apply the "bottom-up" approach of atomic and molecular manipulation to a variety of outstanding problems in science and technology. The effort is interdisciplinary in nature, centering on physics and engineering but involving ideas, techniques, and conundrums from other fields such as chemistry, biology, materials science, and information technology. The primary experimental apparatus for these investigations are custom-built low-temperature scanning probe microscopes capable of both studying and controlling matter at atomic length scales.