Robert Hovden receives DOE Early Career Award

Hovden, who explores matter at the atomic scale, was one of 93 scientific researchers in the country - and the only one in Michigan - to receive this prestigious honor.
Robert Hovden receives DOE Early Career Award

Associate Professor Robert Hovden

MSE is thrilled to announce that Associate Professor Robert Hovden has been selected as a recipient of a 2023 Early Career Award from the Department of Energy. He is one of 93 scientific researchers from around the country – and the only one from Michigan – to receive this prestigious honor and share in a combined total of $135 million in funding.

Hovden, who joined the U-M MSE faculty in early 2018, works at the forefront of atomic imaging using high-energy electron beams to discover exotic electronic or quantum behavior in materials. The research that earned him the DOE award explores room temperature access to ordered two-dimensional charge density waves, which could provide next generation computing that is a paradigm shift toward energy efficient computing, low-voltage logic, and quantum-based devices. [See full abstract below.]

"At Michigan, we're realizing new ways to see matter at the atomic scale,” explained Hovden. “And we're looking at atoms to uncover entirely new quantum states. Unlocking future industries will occur through the discovery of new quantum materials. The Department of Energy, under the direction of Dr. Jane Zhu, is supporting our lab's effort to image atoms in next-generation quantum materials."

The 2023 Early Career Research Program awardees represent 47 universities and 12 DOE National Laboratories across the country. These awards are a part of the DOE’s long-standing efforts to develop the next generation of STEM leaders to solidify America’s role as the driver of science and innovation around the world.

“Supporting America’s scientists and researchers early in their careers will ensure the United States remains at the forefront of scientific discovery,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The funding…gives the recipients the resources to find the answers to some of the most complex questions as they establish themselves as experts in their fields.”

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Room Temperature Stabilization of Ordered 2D Charge Density Waves in Atomically Thin Materials

In crystals, charge density waves are a spontaneous rearrangement of electrons that mediate metal-insulator transitions, compete with superconductivity, and demonstrate ultrafast non-volatile switching. Room temperature access to ordered two-dimensional charge density waves would provide next generation computing that is a paradigm shift toward energy efficient computing, low-voltage logic, and quantum-based devices. This research will investigate novel quantum phase of mater, where low-temperature charge density waves are stabilized at room temperature through out-of-plane charge twinning in confined atomic layers. Moreover, at higher temperatures, ordered states emerge, suggesting fragile quantum states can be enhanced. Discovery and synthesis of novel charge density waves requires high-resolution scanning / transmission electron microscopy (S/TEM) where the picoscale, nanoscale, and microscale structure can be measured directly. This research will control emergent charge ordered phases and unveil the mechanics of transformation using in-situ S/TEM with electrical and temperature measurement on nanostructured devices.