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11/28/2014

PhysicistsbindsingleatomsheetswiththesameforcegeckosusetoclimbwallsScienceDaily

Physicistsbindsingleatomsheetswiththesameforcegeckosuseto
climbwalls
Date:

November25,2014

Source: UniversityofKansas
PhysicistsattheUniversityof
Kansashavefabricatedan
innovativesubstancefromtwo
differentatomicsheetsthat
interlockmuchlikeLegotoy
bricks.Theresearcherssaid
thenewmaterialmadeofa
layerofgrapheneandalayer
oftungstendisulfidecould
beusedinsolarcellsand
flexibleelectronics.Their
findingsarepublishedtoday
byNatureCommunications.
HsinYingChiu,assistant
PhysicistsattheUniversityofKansashavefabricatedaninnovativesubstance
professorofphysicsand
fromtwodifferentatomicsheetsthatinterlockmuchlikeLegotoybricks.
astronomy,andgraduate
studentMattBellusfabricated
Credit:ImagecourtesyofUniversityofKansas
thenewmaterialusing"layer
bylayerassembly"asa
versatilebottomupnanofabricationtechnique.Then,JiaqiHe,avisitingstudentfromChina,andNardeepKumar,a
graduatestudentwhonowhasmovedtoIntelCorp.,investigatedhowelectronsmovebetweenthetwolayersthrough
ultrafastlaserspectroscopyinKU'sUltrafastLaserLab,supervisedbyHuiZhao,associateprofessorofphysicsand
astronomy.
"Tobuildartificialmaterialswithsynergisticfunctionalityhasbeenalongjourneyofdiscovery,"Chiusaid."Anew
classofmaterials,madeofthelayeredmaterials,hasattractedextensiveattentioneversincetherapiddevelopmentof
graphenetechnology.Oneofthemostpromisingaspectsofthisresearchisthepotentialtodevisenextgeneration
materialsviaatomiclayerlevelcontroloveritselectronicstructure."
Accordingtotheresearchers,theapproachistodesignsynergisticmaterialsbycombiningtwosingleatomthick
sheets,forexample,actingasaphotovoltaiccellaswellasalightemittingdiode,convertingenergybetween
electricityandradiation.However,combininglayersofatomicallythinmaterialisathornytaskthathasflummoxed
researchersforyears.
"Abigchallengeofthisapproachisthat,mostmaterialsdon'tconnecttogetherbecauseoftheirdifferentatomic
arrangementsattheinterfacethearrangementoftheatomscannotfollowthetwodifferentsetsofrulesatthesame
time,"Chiusaid."ThisislikeplayingwithLegosofdifferentsizesmadebydifferentmanufacturers.Asaconsequence,
newmaterialscanonlybemadefrommaterialswithverysimilaratomicarrangements,whichoftenhavesimilar
properties,too.Eventhen,arrangementofatomsattheinterfaceisirregular,whichoftenresultsinpoorqualities."
LayeredmaterialssuchasthosedevelopedbytheKUresearchersprovideasolutionforthisproblem.Unlike
conventionalmaterialsformedbyatomsthatarestronglyboundinalldirections,thenewmaterialfeaturestwolayers
whereeachatomicsheetiscomposedofatomsboundstronglywiththeirneighborsbutthetwoatomicsheetsare
themselvesonlyweaklylinkedtoeachotherbythesocalledvanderWaalsforce,thesameattractivephenomenon
betweenmoleculesthatallowsgeckostosticktowallsandceilings.
"Thereexistabout100differenttypesoflayeredcrystalsgraphiteisawellknownexample,"Bellussaid."Becauseof
theweakinterlayerconnection,onecanchooseanytwotypesofatomicsheetsandputoneontopoftheotherwithout
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11/28/2014

PhysicistsbindsingleatomsheetswiththesameforcegeckosusetoclimbwallsScienceDaily

anyproblem.It'slikeplayingLegoswithaflatbottom.Thereisnorestriction.Thisapproachcanpotentiallyproducta
largenumberofnewmaterialswithcombinednovelpropertiesandtransformthematerialscience."
ChiuandBelluscreatedthenewcarbonandtungstendisulfidematerialwiththeaimofdevelopingnovelmaterialsfor
efficientsolarcells.Thesinglesheetofcarbonatoms,knownasgraphene,excelsatmovingelectronsaround,whilea
singlelayeroftungstendisulfideatomsisgoodatabsorbingsunlightandconvertingittoelectricity.Bycombiningthe
two,thisinnovativematerialcanpotentiallyperformbothtaskswell.
Theteamusedscotchtapetoliftasinglelayeroftungstendisulfideatomsfromacrystalandapplyittoasilicon
substrate.Next,theyusedthesameproceduretoremoveasinglelayerofcarbonatomsfromagraphitecrystal.Witha
microscope,theypreciselylaidthegrapheneontopofthetungstendisulfidelayer.Toremoveanygluebetweenthe
twoatomiclayersthatareunintentionallyintroducedduringtheprocess,thematerialwasheatedatabout500degrees
Fahrenheitforahalfhour.Thisallowedtheforcebetweenthetwolayerstosqueezeouttheglue,resultinginasample
oftwoatomicallythinlayerswithacleaninterface.
DoctoralstudentsHeandKumartestedthenewmaterialinKU'sUltrafastLaserLab.Theresearchersusedalaser
pulsetoexcitethetungstendisulfidelayer.
"Wefoundthatnearly100percentoftheelectronsthatabsorbedtheenergyfromthelaserpulsemovefromtungsten
disulfidetographenewithinonepicosecond,oronemillionthofonemillionthsecond,"Zhaosaid."Thisprovesthatthe
newmaterialindeedcombinesthegoodpropertiesofeachcomponentlayer."
TheresearchgroupsledbyChiuandZhaoaretryingtoapplythisLegoapproachtoothermaterials.Forexample,by
combiningtwomaterialsthatabsorblightofdifferentcolors,theycanmakematerialsthatreacttodiversepartsofthe
solarspectrum.
TheNationalScienceFoundationfundedthiswork.
StorySource:
TheabovestoryisbasedonmaterialsprovidedbyUniversityofKansas.Note:Materialsmaybeeditedforcontent
andlength.
JournalReference:
1. JiaqiHe,NardeepKumar,MatthewZ.Bellus,HsinYingChiu,DaweiHe,YongshengWang,HuiZhao.Electron
transferandcouplingingraphenetungstendisulfidevanderWaalsheterostructures.Nature
Communications,20145:5622DOI:10.1038/ncomms6622
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UniversityofKansas."Physicistsbindsingleatomsheetswiththesameforcegeckosusetoclimbwalls."
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