The overarching research goal of the Collective Phenomena in Nanophases (CPN) theme is to understand how collective phenomena arise from correlations and fluctuations, confinement, and coordination across length and time scales, and to control these phenomena to produce complex functionality. In particular, we seek to understand the mechanism(s) whereby unique assemblies of atoms and molecules are formed under realistic conditions to enable the design and synthesis of materials and structures with prescribed functional (physiochemical) properties. This goal will be realized by research addressing the following questions: How does multiscale (electronic, atomic, molecular, nano-, and micro-) structure, confinement, correlations and fluctuations (e.g. quantum, thermal) lead to collective phenomena and the emergence of new properties in nanophase systems? How does the crossover from strong to weak correlations influence a nanostructured system’s behavior, where and how does it occur, and how can it be controlled? How do long-range correlations lead to coordination across length and time scales?

Understanding collective phenomena in nanophases and the role of fluctuations in non-equilibrium systems have both been identified as grand challenges for 21st century science. Our approach is to address these problems in two distinct ways: first, in theoretical work we begin within a framework in which all boundary conditions to the systems of interest can be controlled and their impact evaluated. The obtained information/knowledge can then be used to enable real systems that are synthesized and characterized; second, in experimental work we generate confined systems of interacting molecular networks and characterize how correlations and fluctuations, confinement and coordination control behavior. 

The CPN research complements the current user-driven science at the CNMS. The interdisciplinary research is intended to add depth to the science at the CNMS and will lead to the development of new capabilities that will be available for future user projects.


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