2D Materials for Better Optoelectronics

The transparency of a device at the 2D limit can be tuned using an electric bias, where different type of optical processes that simply define the way we see objects can be modify externally. This gives the control on properties that until very recently were not thought to be manipulated arbitrarily (Source: Queen's Univ. Belfast)

The transparency of a device at the 2D limit can be tuned using an electric bias, where different type of optical processes that simply define the way we see objects can be modify externally. This gives the control on properties that until very recently were not thought to be manipulated arbitrarily (Source: Queen’s Univ. Belfast)

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have created a new theo­retical framework which could help physicists and device engineers design better opto­electronics, leading to less heat gene­ration and power consumption in electronic devices which source, detect, and control light. Speaking about the research, which enables scientists and engineers to quantify how trans­parent a 2D material is to an electro­static field, Elton Santos from the Atomistic Simulation Research Centre at Queen’s, said: “We have developed a theo­retical framework that predicts and quantifies the degree of trans­parency up to the limit of one-atom-thick, 2D materials, to an electro­static field.”

“Imagine we can change the trans­parency of a material just using an electric bias, e.g. get darker or brighter at will. What kind of impli­cations would this have, for instance, in mobile phone techno­logies? This was the first question we asked ourselves. We realised that this would allow the micro­scopic control over the distri­bution of charged carriers in a bulk semi­conductor – e.g. tradi­tional silicon microchips – in a nonlinear manner”, Santos said.

This will help physi­cists and device engineers to design better quantum capacitors, an array of subatomic power storage components capable to keep high energy densities, for instance, in batteries, and vertical transistors, leading to next-generation opto­electronics with lower power con­sumption and dissi­pation of heat, and better per­formance. In other words, smarter smart phones.

Explaining how the theory could have important impli­cations for future work in the area, Santos added: “Our current model simply considers an interface formed between a layer of 2D material and a bulk semi­conductor. In principle, our approach can be readily extended to a stack of multiple 2D materials, or namely, van der Waals hetero­structures recently fabricated. This will allow us to design and predict the behaviour of these cutting-edge devices in prior to actual fabri­cation, which will signi­ficantly facilitate deve­lopments for a variety of applications. We will have an in silico search for the right combi­nation of different 2D crystals while reducing the need for expensive lab work and test trials.” (Source: Queen’s Univ. Belfast)

Reference: T. Tian et al.: Multiscale Analysis for Field-Effect Penetration through Two-Dimensional Materials, Nano Lett. 16, 5044 (2016); DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b01876

Link: Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zürich, Switzerland  School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom

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