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"Mind the Gap" Between Atomically Thin Materials

Monday, December 1, 2014

When it comes to engineering single-layer atomic structures, "minding the gap" will help researchers create artificial electronic materials one atomic layer at a time, according to a team of materials scientists.  

The gap is a miniscule vacuum that researchers in Penn State's Center for 2-Dimensional and Layered Materials believe is an energy barrier keeping electrons from easily crossing from one layer of material to the next.

"We're still trying to understand how electrons move vertically through these layered materials, and we thought it should take a lot less energy," said Joshua Robinson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and associate director of the 2DLM Center. "Thanks to a combination of theory and experiment, we now know we have to account for this gap when we design new materials."