Electronics has been and remains a major driver of nanotechnology. Downscaling of size has become a profound obstacle to further advances, stimulating alternative approaches to information processing. Several NanoCenter researchers have played important roles in carbon nanotube and graphene based alternative electronics, while others are pursuing information processing based on electron spin, not charge. Significant NanoCenter work is aimed at exploiting the special properties of quantized systems for quantum information processing. The UMD-NIST Joint Quantum Institute is pursuing several physical embodiments of these phenomena (photonics, superconductivity) in concert with the NanoCenter.
Semiconductors serve as the conduits for electron transport in nearly all modern logic, sensor, and optoelectronic devices, because these materials enable precise manipulation of internal electric fields that control the electron's fundamental electric charge.