“It is exciting to see, for the first time, how interactions between atomically thin layers change their electronic structure,” said Dr Neil Wilson.
Various heterostructures have been created using different 2D materials – and stacking different combinations of 2D materials creates new materials with new properties.
Heterostructures are said to create highly efficient optoelectronic devices with ultrafast electrical charge, which can be used in nano-circuits, and are stronger than materials used in traditional circuits.
The technique used computational models to measure the electronic properties of each layer in a stack, allowing researchers to establish the optimal structure for the fastest, most efficient transfer of electrical energy.
The photoelectric effect was used to measure the momentum of electrons within each layer and to show how this changes when the layers are combined.
The ability to understand and quantify how 2D material heterostructures work - and to create optimal semiconductor structures - paves the way for the development of highly efficient nano-circuitry, and smaller, flexible, more wearable gadgets, according to the researchers.
Solar power could also be revolutionised with heterostructures, as the atomically thin layers allow for strong absorption and efficient power conversion with a minimal amount of photovoltaic material.