News Release

Researchers introduce new method to fine-tune properties of layered transition metal dichalcogenides crystals

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Researchers Introduce New Method to Fine-Tune Properties of Layered Transition Metal Dichalcogenides Crystals


Variation in the atomic structure and insulating nature

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Credit: WANG Yihao

Recently, a research group led by Assoc. Prof. CAO Liang from Hefei Institutes of Physical Science of Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. XIONG Yimin from Anhui University and Prof. XU Hai from Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, has introduced an additional translational degree of freedom in layered Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) crystals, enabling fine-tuning of their physical properties.

The research results were published in Nature Communications.

Layered Mott insulators help us understand how different states like Mott insulators, charge density waves, and superconductors are connected. By changing how these layers stack and behave under pressure and temperature, scientists can explore these relationships. One material, 1T-TaS2, is especially interesting because it changes in complex ways when it cools down, showing unusual insulating behavior at low temperatures and high electron densities. However, even after much research, it's still unclear whether this insulating state is a Mott insulator or a band insulator.

In this study, researchers introduce a novel approach to manipulate inter-layer coupling strength in layered crystals by deliberately introducing fractional misalignment of adjacent layers. This controlled inter-layer stacking and coupling revealed the dualistic insulating nature of 1T-TaS2 crystals, showing a shift between 3D band-insulating states and 2D Mott-insulating states. This discover has important implications for understanding the origin of hidden states under non-equilibrium conditions and the anomalies in 1T-TaS2, such as the absence of long-range magnetic order and unexpected emergence of superconducting states.

For the first time, they demonstrated how the fractional lattice translation between adjacent layers in layered crystals can profoundly modify electronic structures. This discovery introduces an additional translational degree of freedom, enabling fine-tuning of the properties of bulk crystals. Unlike traditional methods, such as chemical doping, intercalation and pressure, this approach is remarkably simple and clean, avoiding the introduction of impurities while preserving the mechanical strength and stability of the crystals.

"The extension of the laddering configuration we defined to other layered crystals with similar structural characteristics of intra-layer stiffness and inter-layer slipperiness presents exciting opportunities to investigate correlated states confined to 2D systems, akin to reducing dimensionality in layered 3D materials." said Prof. CAO Liang.

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