A new study by an international team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota highlights how manipulation of 2D materials could make our modern day devices faster, smaller, and better.
The findings are now online and will be published in Nature Materials, a leading scientific journal of materials science and engineering research (November 2016).
Two-dimensional materials are a class of nanomaterials that are only a few atoms in thickness. Electrons in these materials are free to move in the two-dimensional plane, but their restricted motion in the third direction is governed by quantum mechanics. Research on these nanomaterials is still in its infancy, but 2D materials such as graphene has garnered tremendous attention from scientists and engineers for their amazing properties and potential to improve electronic and photonic devices.
In this study, researchers from the University of Minnesota, MIT, Stanford, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, IBM, and universities in Brazil, UK and Spain, teamed up to examine the optical properties of several dozens of 2D materials. The goal of the paper is to unify understanding of light-matter interactions in these materials among researchers and explore new possibilities for future research.
They discuss how polaritons, a class of quasiparticles formed through the coupling of photons with electric charge dipoles in solid, allow researchers to marry the speed of photon light particles and the small size of electrons. By exciting the polaritons in 2D materials, electromagnetic energy can be focused down to a volume a million times smaller compared to when its propagating in free space.
“Every time we look at a new material, we find something new,” Low said. “Graphene is often considered a ‘wonder’ material, but combining it with another material may make it even better for a wide variety of applications.”