Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

When semiconductors stick together, materials go quantum

08.03.2019

A new study led by Berkeley Lab reveals how aligned layers of atomically thin semiconductors can yield an exotic new quantum material

A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a simple method that could turn ordinary semiconducting materials into quantum machines - superthin devices marked by extraordinary electronic behavior.


The twist angle formed between atomically thin layers of tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide acts as a "tuning knob," turning ordinary semiconductors into an exotic quantum material.

Credit: Berkeley Lab

Such an advancement could help to revolutionize a number of industries aiming for energy-efficient electronic systems - and provide a platform for exotic new physics.

The study describing the method, which stacks together 2D layers of tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide to create an intricately patterned material, or superlattice, was published online recently in the journal Nature.

"This is an amazing discovery because we didn't think of these semiconducting materials as strongly interacting," said Feng Wang, a condensed matter physicist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and professor of physics at UC Berkeley. "Now this work has brought these seemingly ordinary semiconductors into the quantum materials space."

Two-dimensional (2D) materials, which are just one atom thick, are like nanosized building blocks that can be stacked arbitrarily to form tiny devices. When the lattices of two 2D materials are similar and well-aligned, a repeating pattern called a moiré superlattice can form.

For the past decade, researchers have been studying ways to combine different 2D materials, often starting with graphene - a material known for its ability to efficiently conduct heat and electricity. Out of this body of work, other researchers had discovered that moiré superlattices formed with graphene exhibit exotic physics such as superconductivity when the layers are aligned at just the right angle.

The new study, led by Wang, used 2D samples of semiconducting materials - tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide - to show that the twist angle between layers provides a "tuning knob" to turn a 2D semiconducting system into an exotic quantum material with highly interacting electrons.

Entering a new realm of physics

Co-lead authors Chenhao Jin, a postdoctoral scholar, and Emma Regan, a graduate student researcher, both of whom work under Wang in the Ultrafast Nano-Optics Group at UC Berkeley, fabricated the tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide samples using a polymer-based technique to pick up and transfer flakes of the materials, each measuring just tens of microns in diameter, into a stack.

They had fabricated similar samples of the materials for a previous study, but with the two layers stacked at no particular angle. When they measured the optical absorption of a new tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide sample for the current study, they were taken completely by surprise.

The absorption of visible light in a tungsten disulfide/tungsten diselenide device is largest when the light has the same energy as the system's exciton, a quasiparticle that consists of an electron bound to a hole that is common in 2D semiconductors. (In physics, a hole is a currently vacant state that an electron could occupy.)

For light in the energy range that the researchers were considering, they expected to see one peak in the signal that corresponded to the energy of an exciton.

Instead, they found that the original peak that they expected to see had split into three different peaks representing three distinct exciton states.

What could have increased the number of exciton states in the tungsten disulfide/tungsten device from one to three? Was it the addition of a moiré superlattice?

To find out, their collaborators Aiming Yan and Alex Zettl used a transmission electron microscope (TEM) at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, a nanoscale science research facility, to take atomic-resolution images of the tungsten disulfide/tungsten diselenide device to check how the materials' lattices were aligned.

The TEM images confirmed what they had suspected all along: the materials had indeed formed a moiré superlattice. "We saw beautiful, repeating patterns over the entire sample," said Regan. "After comparing this experimental observation with a theoretical model, we found that the moiré pattern introduces a large potential energy periodically over the device and could therefore introduce exotic quantum phenomena."

The researchers next plan to measure how this new quantum system could be applied to optoelectronics, which relates to the use of light in electronics; valleytronics, a field that could extend the limits of Moore's law by miniaturizing electronic components; and superconductivity, which would allow electrons to flow in devices with virtually no resistance.

###

Also contributing to the study were researchers from Arizona State University and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan.

The work was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Elemental Strategy Initiative conducted by MEXT, Japan, and JSPS KAKENHI. The Molecular Foundry is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab's facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Media Contact

Theresa Duque
tnduque@lbl.gov
510-495-2418

 @BerkeleyLab

http://www.lbl.gov 

Theresa Duque | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2019/03/07/semiconductors-go-quantum
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-0976-y

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Harvesting energy from the human knee
17.07.2019 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Neutrino-Observatorium IceCube am Südpol wird ausgebaut
17.07.2019 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival

17.07.2019 | Life Sciences

Harvesting energy from the human knee

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Neutrino-Observatorium IceCube am Südpol wird ausgebaut

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>