New technique shows how 2-D thin films take the heat

2-D material illustration
A HEATED RESPONSE Probing 2-D materials with high-energy particle beams reveals how these superthin films perform when the heat is on.

High-energy particle beams can reveal how 2-D thin sheets behave when the heat is cranked up.

Researchers have devised a way to track how these materials, such as the supermaterial graphene, expand or contract as temperatures rise (SN: 10/3/15, p. 7). This technique, described in the Feb. 2 Physical Review Letters, showed that 2-D semiconductors arranged in single-atom-thick sheets expand more like plastics than metals when heated. Better understanding the high-temp behaviors of these and other 2-D materials could help engineers design sturdy nano-sized electronics.

Commonly used silicon-based electronics are “hitting a brick wall,” regarding how much smaller they can get, says Zlatan Aksamija, an electrical engineer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst not involved in the work. Materials made of ultrathin, 2-D films could be ideal for building the next generation of tinier devices.

But electronics warm up as electric current courses through them. If 2-D materials in a nanodevice expand or shrink at different rates from each other when heated, that could change the device’s electronic properties — such as how well it conducts electricity, says Antoine Reserbat-Plantey, a physicist at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona not involved in the research. It’s crucial to know how the thin films react to higher temps.


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