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Yankowitz receives prestigious YIP award


July 9, 2020

Matthew Yankowitz

Matthew Yankowitz, an assistant professor in the departments of MSE and physics, has received the Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award from the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The objective of YIP is to encourage and support young university faculty in research areas relevant to the Army. YIP awards are one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the Army to outstanding scientists beginning their independent careers.

The three-year award will provide $360,000 of funding to support Matt’s research developing new experimental techniques to control the properties of van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures using high pressure. The research will focus on engineering new electronic states in twisted heterostructures of graphene and boron nitride.

Matt explains, “During my postdoctoral work, I developed a new technique in which we used pressure to modify the properties of moiré vdW heterostructures by squeezing the constituent 2D crystal sheets together. In this way, we were able to dynamically control the electronic properties of these materials in ways which were not previously possible. The ARO Young Investigator Award will take this a step further, allowing us to develop new experimental techniques to apply high pressures that are up to an order of magnitude larger than previously accessible. The physics of these moiré vdW heterostructures under extremely high pressure is largely uncharted territory, so we're excited to see what surprises emerge!”

moire pattern illustration

An illustration of a moiré pattern that forms upon stacking two crystals with a small twist angle or lattice mismatch. New electronic properties emerge as a result of the moiré pattern, and can be controlled with high pressure.

During his graduate research at the University of Arizona, Matt worked on ARO funded research projects and collaborated with scientists from the Army Research Laboratory. “Matt has an extraordinary ability for extricating subtle but important physics from novel materials and their heterostructures via very intricate measurements. His work is highly referenced by leading scientist world-wide and has great potential for making fundamental advances towards electronic devices that are of great interest to the US Army,” said Dr. Glen Bridwell, one of Matt’s collaborators from ARL.

“We are happy that Matt is able to continue his research at University of Washington, and looking forwarding to new exciting results from Matt that could enable future electronic capabilities for the US Army,” said Dr. Joe Qiu, ARO program manager for Solid-State Electronics and Electromagnetics.