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Prof Monica Craciun

Professor in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Email:

Telephone: 01392 723656 or 01392 725868

Extension: (Streatham) 3656 or (Streatham) 5868

Prof Monica Craciun is Professor in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in the Engineering Department at the University of Exeter, UK. She is part of the Centre for Graphene Science, the Nano Engineering Science and Technology (NEST) Group and the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation.

Prof Craciun has over 19 years of research expertise in the areas of Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. She held one of the 5-year EPSRC Engineering Fellowships for Growth awarded to only 8 UK leading academics for maintaining UK’s research leadership the area of Advanced Materials (identified as one of the Great British Technologies). Prof Craciun is/was investigator on more than 30 EPSRC, Royal Society, Innovate UK, EU and industrial research grants with a total funding of over £10 million.

The academic work of Prof Craciun spans from engineering research in nanotechnology, electronic and optoelectronic devices to fundamental science research in nanoscience (quantum phenomena, molecular electronics, nano electronics, spintronics) and materials science (discovery of new materials and manufacturing methods, understanding the properties-performance relationship). She has over 160 publications in leading international journals (e.g. Nature & Science family journals, Advanced Materials, Nano Letters), with many papers ranked in the top 1% in Materials Science, Engineering and Physics, which have attracted an h-index of 39, an i10-index of 73 and more than 5200 citations. Prof Craciun leads a research group working on two-dimensional materials with the aim of harnessing their novel properties for electronics, photonics, energy, sensing and healthcare.

Prof Craciun gained a PhD in Applied Physics from Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), an MSc in Materials Physics (Joseph Fourier University, Grenobe, France), an MSc in Applied Physics (University of Bucharest, Romania) and an MSc in Materials Engineering (Catholic University Leuven, Belgium). Before joining Exeter she was postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) and at the University of Tokyo were she was awarded a prestigious fellowship of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. Prof Craciun joined the University of Exeter in January 2010 as research fellow and took up her current position in April 2017.

Several research fellows such as Marie Curie and Royal Academy of Engineering were hosted and mentored by Prof Craciun. She also mentored 13 postdoctoral researchers and is/was supervisor of more than 30 PhD students (17 to completion), as well as more than 60 Msc, MEng, BEng and MPhys dissertation students. Several of the researchers supervised by Prof Craciun have progressed to academic positions or are in leadership positions in industry, as detailed on the former group members page.

Research interests

The research of Prof Craciun is at the forefront of nanoscale Engineering and Materials Science, spanning from nanoscience & nanotechnology to electronic & optoelectronic technologies, with a highly interdisciplinary activity reaching out Condensed Matter Physics, Chemistry and Bioscience.

  • Electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices.

The aim of this area is the exploitation of 2D materials with extraordinary performances in electronic and optoelectronic devices and their drive towards the next-generation technology. Contributions to this area include novel techniques to pattern electrical circuits in Fluorine- functionalised graphene, of use for whole-graphene electronics [Nano Lett. 11, 3912 (2011)], a method to tailor the band gap of fluorinated graphene by tuning the Fluorine coverage [Nanoscale Res. Lett. 6, 526, (2011) & New J. Phys. 15, 033024 (2013)]. In terms of materials advances, our team developed a new growth method for graphene which is 100 times faster and 99% lower cost than standard Chemical Vapor Deposition [Adv. Mater. 27, 4200 (2015)], allowing semiconductor industry a way to mass produce graphene with present facilities rather than requiring them to build new manufacturing plants. We also developed the GraphExeter material (i.e. few-layer graphene intercalated with FeCl3), the best carbon-based transparent conductor [Adv. Mater. 24, 2844 (2012)], with resilience to extreme conditions [Nature Sci. Rep. 5, 7609 (2015)], extensively reported by media such as BBC, Forbes and Reuters. We demonstrated the potential of GraphExeter for flexible electronics [Nature Sci. Rep. 5, 16464 (2015)], transparent photo-detectors [ACS Nano 7, 5052 (2013)], foldable light emitting devices [ACS Appl. Mater. Int. 8, 16541 (2016)], used GraphExeter to provide the first evidence for magnetic ordering in the extreme limit of 2D systems [Nano Lett 14, 1755 (2014)] and demonstrated GraphExeter as a plasmonic material with unprecedented capabilities in infrared [Nano Lett. 17, 5908 (2017)]. Our group also contributed to the development of a method to accurately produce MoTe2 layers and control their thickness for electronics and optoelectronics [Adv. Funct. Mater. 28 1804434 (2018)]. The most recent innovation is the development of laser-writable high-k dielectric for 2D nanoelectronics [Science Advances 5, eaau0906 (2019)]. Our advances in optoelectronics include the intelligent design of fast and highly efficient atomically thin optoelectronic devices [Adv. Mater. (2017)], a novel method to engineer photodetectors in GraphExeter for ultrathin, high-definition sensing and video imaging technologies [Science Advances (2017)], 2D heterostructures for video-frame-rate imaging [Adv. Mat. 2017]. Recently we presented the first experimental evidence of an electron funnel on a chip [Nature Communications 9, 1652 (2018)], a technology that could unlock new ways of ‘funnelling’ the sun’s energy more efficiently directly into solar panels or batteries.

  • Wearable/flexible electronics and optoelectronics.

Our research has greatly contributed to the state-of-the-art in this field, as our group was among the first to report 2D materials based technologies for textile electronics [Nature Sci. Rep. 5, 9866 (2015) & Nature Sci. Rep.7, 4250 (2017)] and artificial skin [Adv. Mater. 27, 4200 (2015)]. These contributions effectively opened up the emerging field of electronic textiles to the thinnest materials ever conceived: atomically thin materials. In this area, our group also contributed to the demonstration of ultra-small, ultra-fast and flexible non-volatile graphene memories [ACS Nano 11, 3010 (2017)]. We also pioneered a new technique to create graphene electronic textile fibres that can function as touch-sensors and light-emitting devices [npj Flexible Electronics 2, 25 (2018)] and demonstrated fabric-enabled pixels for displays and position sensitive functions, constituting a gateway for novel electronic skin, wearable electronic and smart textile applications. Recent advances are on the integration of high‐quality graphene films obtained from scalable water processing approaches in emerging energy harvesting devices [Adv. Mater. 30, 1802953 (2018)], opening new possibilities for self-powered electronic skin, flexible and wearable electronics. Based on this technology we developed a method for the fabrication of micrometer-sized well-defined patterns in water-based 2D materials [Adv. Sci. 6, 1802318 (2019)]. This method was used to create humidity sensors with performance comparable to that of commercial ones. These sensor devices are fabricated onto a 4 inch polyethylene terephthalate (PET) wafers to create all-graphene humidity sensors that are flexible, transparent, and compatible with current roll-to-roll workflow.

  • Quantum Engineering & Nano Electronics.

We use nano-electronic devices to investigate the electronic properties of graphene, functionalized graphene and of other 2D materials. This encompasses quantum phenomena studies as well as application of these materials in photodetectors, p-n diodes, transistors and memories. Main contributions from our group include the first experimental demonstration of charge carriers propagation in monolayer graphene via evanescent waves [Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 196802 (2008)] and the discovery that ABA-stacked trilayer graphene is the only gate-tuneable semimetal [Nature Nanotech. 4, 383 (2009)], opening the research area of few-layer graphene (FLG). We also published the first experimental evidence that trilayer graphene has a unique stacking-dependent quantum Hall effect [Phys. Rev. B(R) 84, 161408 (2011)], the first studies of electrical transport in FLG with record high charge densities controlled by liquid ionic gating [PNAS 108, 13002 (2011)], and the first direct observation of the electric field tuneable energy gap in ABC-stacked trilayer graphene [Nano Lett. 15, 4429 (2015)]. Other advances are the realisation of a highly efficient graphene Cooper pair splitter device for quantum information processing [Nature Sci. Rep. 6, 23051 2016], and revealing the mechanism of large distance supercurrent propagation through graphene-superconductor junctions [Nano Lett. 16, 4788 (2016)]. We also developed novel ways to strain graphene [Nano Lett. 14, 1158 (2014)] which were used to experimentally study electron states in uniaxially strained graphene [Nano Lett. 15, 7943 (2015)], of interest for straintronics applications. We also probed different strain configuration in 2D superlattices and provided a new mechanism to induce complex strain patterns in 2D materials [Nano Lett. 18, 7919 (2018)], with profound implications in the development of future electronic devices based on heterostructures. Our latest contribution in this area is the demonstration of electrical tuning up to room temperature of optically active interlayer excitons in bilayer MoS2 [Nature Nanotechnology, (2021)].

  • Molecular and Organic Electronics.

This was was the focus area of my PhD. Highlights include the discovery of a correlation between the electrical conduction of metal-phthalocyanine (MPc) materials and the molecular structure of their constituent molecules [J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127, 12210 (2005)] and the realisation of the first MPc ambipolar transistor [Appl. Phys. Lett. 86, 262109 (2005)]. This was followed by the first demonstration of high electrical conductivity in alkali-doped MPc [Adv. Mater. 18, 320 (2006)], which opened up the field of metallic MPc. I also published the first experimental observation of an insulating state in pentacene induced by strong interactions between the conduction electrons [Phys. Rev. B 79, 125116 (2009)]. This is still an active field in my group, but with a focus on hybrid 2D-organic materials systems and device engineering. Our latest advance is the demonstration of novel devices for imaging at ultralow light levels based on organic semiconductors and graphene interfaces [Adv, Mater. 29, 1702993 (2017)]. Such devices pave the way for the implementation of low-cost, flexible imaging technologies at ultralow light levels.

  • 2D materials for civil engineering

The aim of this area is harnessing the novel properties of graphene and related materials in order to drive them towards applications in civil engineering. In this area our group has demonstrated ultrahigh performance nanoengineered Graphene–Concrete composites with an unprecedented range of enhanced and multifunctional properties compared to standard concrete [Adv. Func. Mater. 2018]. These include an increase of up to 146% in the compressive strength, up to 79.5% in the flexural strength, and a decrease in the maximum displacement due to compressive loading by 78%. We have also contributed to the demonstration of Graphene–Rubber layered functional composites for seismic isolation of structures [Adv. Eng. Mater. 2020]). In this work, novel graphene-reinforced elastomeric isolators (GREI) are proposed. Elastomeric isolators (EIs) are devices used for seismic isolation of structures, made of alternate layers of steel and rubber, and positioned between the structure and its foundations to decouple them. The heavy weight and complex manufacturing process of steel based EIs drives costs up, restricting their use to strategic buildings such as hospitals and civic centers. As a promising alternative, GREI is proposed here to overcome the heavy weight and long manufacturing process of steel based devices and the mechanical limitation to seismic excitations of alternative technologies such as glass or carbon fiber-reinforced EIs.

Selected publications

 

Teaching activities

  • Fundamentals of Mechanics, Materials and Electronics, 1st year all Engineering (2020-2022)
  • Analogue and Digital Electronics Design, 2nd year Electronic Engineering  (2011 – 2014, 2019 – 2020)
  • Individual project coordinator, 3rd  year all Engineering (2013 – 2014, 2019 – 2022)    
  • Group project coordinator, 4th  year all Engineering (2013 – 2014)
  • Commercial and Industrial Experience coordinator, 3rd  year all Engineering (2013 – 2014)
  • Contemporary Advanced Materials Research, Msc Materials Engineering (2011 – 2014)