Evelyn L. Hu
Center for Quantized Electronic Structures
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
The one day workshop in St. Petersburg presented a useful, albeit necessarily cursory and incomplete, overview of the general activities in nanostructure research being carried out in Russia and in the states of the former Soviet Union (FSU). It was evident that there is widespread interest and activity going on in both theory (Ovid'ko and Romanov) and experimental realizations of nanostructures. Research in nanocrystalline materials has an established history in Russia, and we heard of a variety of synthesis approaches fornanophase materials, including rapid crystallization of metallic glasses (Noskova), nucleation of nanophased material by shock impact (Mescheryakov), hydrogen-induced transformations of metals (Yermakov), plasma chemical and exploding wire techniques (Sheka). There were also discussions of chemical synthesis with nanostructured templates (Kumzerov) and suggestions of assemblies of nanostructured materials through the assembly of 'superatoms' (Aleskovskii). A large number of applications of these materials was discussed, including high strength materials, materials for medical applications (Valiev), motor oil additives to reduce friction, water filters (Petrunin), and novel superconducting (Kumzerov) and semiconducting devices (e.g.,resonant tunneling diodes, Obukhov). In the research area we term 'functional nanostructures,' relating to electronic, optical and magnetic device realizations, it is usually necessary to use fairly sophisticated, capital-intensive equipment such as ultra high vacuum stations (e.g., for Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE)), high resolution patterning, pattern-transfer equipment and sophisticated materials characterization capabilities. There was some discussion at the workshop of the use of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) (Ryjikov, Obukhov) and MBE (Obukhov), but in general the availability and accessibility of such equipment is at this time limited in Russia and the FSU.
Nevertheless, there continues to be a strong representation in nanostructure research by Russian scientists, much of it made possible through strong collaborations, primarily with institutions in Europe. For example, some of the leading work on quantum dots and quantum dot incorporation within laser structures has been carried out in conjunction with Professor D. Bimberg's group in Berlin. The Ioffe Institute and some other academic/research organizations in the FSU are members of the European-nucleated PHANTOMS group, a " network of excellence in the field of Physics and Technology of Mesoscopic Systems." R. A. Suris, who attended the WTEC workshop and who is Director of the Division of Solid State Physics at the Ioffe Institute, described the International Symposium on Nanostructures, which the Ioffe Institute has hosted for the past few years. Similar international workshops have been held elsewhere in Russia at sites such as Chernogolovka. A clear benefit of such workshops is in providing an accessible and relevant forum for Russian scientists to present their research findings, as well as a means of directly sharing information on nanostructures at the international level.
Finally, it is important to note that Russia and the FSU have been important contributors to key ideas that have simulated research in functional nanostructures. Much of the foundation of mesoscopic physics, which in turn provide the basis for novel nanostructure-based device schemes, has been laid by researchers who at one time worked within Russia and the FSU.