Scientists create armour for fragile quantum technology

An international team of scientists have invented the equivalent of body armor for extremely fragile quantum systems, which will make them strong enough to be used as the basis for a new generation of low-energy electronics.

The scientists applied the armor by gently squeezing liquid metal gallium droplets onto the material, coating them with gallium oxide.

Matthias Verdeck, the group's lead author, said that conservation is very important for thin materials such as graphene, which is only one atom thick - essentially two-dimensional (2-D) - and therefore from traditional layering techniques They are easily damaged. Publication in Advanced Materials.

"The protective coating basically acts like a body shield for atom-thin materials, shielding it against high-energy particles, which, while fully retaining its optoelectronic properties and its functionality, gives it a large scale But it hurts, ”Mr. Murdak said. , A Ph.D. Student of the Research School of Physics at the Nuclear Physics Center (NLPC) and the FLEET ARC Center of Excellence.

Expanding new technology opens the way for an industry based on ultra-thin electronics, said the leader of the research team, Professor Elena Ostrovskaya, also from NLPC and FLET.

"Two-dimensional materials have exceptional properties such as extremely low resistance or highly efficient interaction with light."

"These qualities may have played a big role in the fight against climate change."

Eight percent of global electricity consumption in 2020 was due to information technology, including computers, smartphones, and large data centers from tech giants such as Google and Amazon. This figure is projected to double every decade according to skyrocketing demand for AI services and smart devices.

However, this work promises a low-energy alternative to electronics and optoelectronics, by exploiting the superior performance of 2-D semiconducting materials, such as tungsten disulphide, which were used in this study.

Using 2-D materials to make more efficient devices will have the benefits of carbon emission reduction, says Mr. Wurdack.

"2-D technology can enable super-efficient sensors on space craft, or processors in Internet of Things devices that are less limited by battery life."

The team created its protective layer by dispersing a small drop of liquid gallium into the air, creating an entire layer of gallium oxide just three nanometers thick on its surface.

By squeezing the droplet on top of the 2-D material with a glass slide, the gallium oxide layer can be moved from liquid gallium to the entire surface of the material, in scales up to centimeters.

Because this ultrathin gallium oxide is an insulating amorphous glass, it preserves the optoelectronic properties of the underlying 2-D semiconductor.

Gallium oxide glass can enhance these properties even at cryogenic temperatures and protects well from other materials deposited on top. This allows the manufacture of sophisticated, layered nanoscale electronic and optical devices, such as light-emitting diodes, lasers, and transistors.

"We have generated a good alternative to existing technology that can be extended to industry applications," Mr. Verdeck said.

"We hope to find industry partners to work with us to develop a protective layer printer based on this technology, which can go to any laboratory, such as a lithography machine."

"It will be exciting to see fundamental research to find its way into the industry in this way!"

"Ultrathin Ga2O3 Glass: A Larger Scale Passion and Protection Materials for Monolayer WS2" was published in December 2020 in Advanced Materials.

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