Osaka, Japan – Breakthroughs in modern microelectronics depend on understanding and manipulating the movement of electrons in metal. Reducing the thickness of metal sheets to the order of nanometers can enable exquisite control over how the metal's electrons move. In so doing, one can impart properties that aren't seen in bulk metals, such as ultrafast conduction of electricity. Now, researchers from Osaka University and collaborating partners have synthesized a novel class of nanostructured superlattices. This study enables an unusually high degree of control over the movement of electrons within metal semiconductors, which promises to enhance the functionality of everyday technologies.
Precisely tuning the architecture of metal nanosheets, and thus facilitating advanced microelectronics functionalities, remains an ongoing line of work worldwide. In fact, several Nobel prizes have been awarded on this topic. Researchers conventionally synthesize nanostructured superlattices—regularly alternating layers of metals, sandwiched together—from materials of the same dimension; for example, sandwiched 2D sheets. A key aspect of the present researchers' work is its facile fabrication of hetero-dimensional superlattices; for example, 1D nanoparticle chains sandwiched within 2D nanosheets.
"Nanoscale hetero-dimensional superlattices are typically challenging to prepare, but can exhibit valuable physical properties, such as anisotropic electrical conductivity," explains Yung-Chang Lin, senior author. "We developed a versatile means of preparing such structures, and in so doing we will inspire synthesis of a wide range of custom superstructures."
The researchers used chemical vapor deposition—a common nanofabrication technique in industry—to prepare vanadium-based superlattices. These magnetic semiconductors exhibit what is known as an anisotropic anomalous Hall effect (AHE): meaning directionally focused charge accumulation under in-plane magnetic field conditions (in which the conventional Hall effect isn't observed). Usually, the AHE is observed only at ultra-low temperatures. In the present research, the AHE was observed at room temperature and higher, up to around at least the boiling point of water. Generation of the AHE at practical temperatures will facilitate its use in everyday technologies.
"A key promise of nanotechnology is its provision of functionalities that you can't get from bulk materials," states Lin. "Our demonstration of an unconventional anomalous Hall effect at room temperature and above opens up a wealth of possibilities for future semiconductor technology, all accessible by conventional nanofabrication processes."
The present work will help improve the density of data storage, the efficiency of lighting, and the speed of electronic devices. By precisely controlling the nanoscale architecture of metals that are commonly used in industry, researchers will fabricate uniquely versatile technology that surpasses the functionality of natural materials.
The article, "Heterodimensional superlattice with room-temperature anomalous Hall effect," was published in Nature at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-05031-2
About Osaka University
Osaka University was founded in 1931 as one of the seven imperial universities of Japan and is now one of Japan's leading comprehensive universities with a broad disciplinary spectrum. This strength is coupled with a singular drive for innovation that extends throughout the scientific process, from fundamental research to the creation of applied technology with positive economic impacts. Its commitment to innovation has been recognized in Japan and around the world, being named Japan's most innovative university in 2015 (Reuters 2015 Top 100) and one of the most innovative institutions in the world in 2017 (Innovative Universities and the Nature Index Innovation 2017). Now, Osaka University is leveraging its role as a Designated National University Corporation selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to contribute to innovation for human welfare, sustainable development of society, and social transformation.
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Heterodimensional superlattice with room-temperature anomalous Hall effect
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