Researchers grow versatile 2D material

1 min read

A single, three-atom thick layer of a 2D material called tungsten ditelluride has been produced by University of Pennsylvania researchers. Unlike other 2D materials, scientists believe tungsten ditelluride has topological electronic states – meaning that it can have many different properties not just one.

Potential 2D material properties include the power to insulate, emit light, behave as both a metal and a semiconductor, and be spintronic.

"Because tungsten ditelluride is three atoms thick, the atoms can be arranged in different ways," Professor Charlie Johnson said. "These three atoms can take on slightly different configurations with respect to each other. One configuration is predicted to give these topological properties."

The researchers grew the material using chemical vapour deposition. "Through finding exactly the right conditions, these elements will chemically react and combine to form a monolayer, or three-atom-thick regions of this material," Prof Johnson explained.

One thing the researchers found is that the material grows in rectangular crystallites, rather than the triangles that other materials grow in.

Although the research is still in its early stages and the researchers have yet to produce a continuous film, they hope to conduct experiments to show that it has the topological electronic properties that are predicted.

One possible property of these topological systems is that any current travelling through the material would only be carried on the edges, and no current would travel through the centre of the material. If researchers were able to produce single-layer thick materials with this property, they could potentially route an electrical signal to go off into different locations.

The 2D materials might also allow for an error-tolerant form of quantum computing called topologically protected quantum computing, which requires both semiconducting and superconducting materials.