Student Spotlight

Nano-Materials and Electronics Group: Cong Su

Research group name: NANOMATERIALS AND ELECTRONICS GROUP

Hometown, Country: Beijing, China

Academic History Prior to coming to MIT: B.S. in Applied Physics, Yuanpei College, Peking University, China.

What brought you to MIT? I’ve never thought that I could come to MIT (I guess no one does) and my persistence luckily paid off. It’s the reputation and all the brilliant people here that makes MIT a truly unique place in the world.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?  I’m trying to modify materials from atomic level using focused electron probes. The crystallographic change of materials requires high energy techniques and spatial precision on atomic level, and the electron beam inside scanning transmission electron microscope falls into that category. Following this method, the modified atomic defects and structures are usually stable in ambient condition and room temperature. We are now on our way toward a real atomic control for mass production, but there is still a long distance to go. Once we have a versatile tool with atom-control capability under room temperature, there will be many applications ensued including the creation of color centers for quantum information storage, and customizing the defect structure for single-atom catalysis.

What interests you most about your research?  Doesn’t it sound really cool when you are able to move a single atom? Just imagine there are 10 orders of magnitude difference in the length scales of an atom and a human being, and you can somehow put your own will into the motion of an atom.

What are your future plans? I’m going to UC Berkeley as the Heising-Simons Postdoc Fellow. I’ve never had any single doubt to stay in academia where my passion lies in.