Prashant Sharma
Director of
Nanoscience Research Laboratory
Office: Archer 326; Phone: (617) 573-8013
Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114

My research area is the physics of materials. A single phrase to describe my research interest is the study of the condensed phase of matter. I am interested in several aspects of the physics of condensed matter that have a bearing on modern technology, in particular on nanotechnology. Simply put, there are two kinds of questions that interest me:

  1. Questions that are related to the nature of what is elementary in the condensed phase. Specifically: What happens to the spin of an electron in the condensed phase of matter; and how can we use the spin degrees of freedom to store and transmit information?
  2. Questions that are more immediately connected to experiments in nanoscience or nanotechnology at the interface of physics and biology. Such as, how to control the assembly of biomolecules, so that they can be used to create nano-electronic devices?
These two kinds of questions arise from two different viewpoints: (a) the top-down approach; and (b) the bottom-up approach to nanoscience. The former question is natural to ask when one views nanomaterials as a collection of a few hundred atoms. The latter question arises if one approaches nanoscience from the micron scale of biomolecules.

Tackling these questions requires different techniques. I approach the first kind of questions using theoretical techniques of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory derived from high energy physics. The second kind of questions are the ones in which I have successfully involved undergraduate students at Suffolk. I tackle these kinds of questions using microscopy techniques that range from optical microscopy (for micron scale features) to atomic force and tunneling microscopy (for nanoscale and sub-nanoscale features).

In the last two years, I have been focused on developing the
Nanoscience Lab facility. It now houses an atomic force microscope, the scanning tunneling microscope, a scanning electron microscope, and an inverted light microscope, and is becoming a center of cutting-edge research involving undergraduate students.