Scientists from SLAC, Stanford University, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source, grew sheets of an exotic material in a single atomic layer and measured its electronic structure for the first time. They discovered it’s a natural fit for making thin, flexible light-based electronics.

In a study published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers give a recipe for making the thinnest possible sheets of the material, called molybdenum diselenide or MoSe2, in a precisely controlled way, using a technique that’s common in electronics manufacturing.

Based on tests they conducted they believe that MoSe2 has possible applications in photoelectronic devices and also has potential for novel types of electronics that are still in the future.

Single atomic sheets of MoSe2 have been generating a lot of scientific interest lately because they belong to a small class of materials that absorb light and glow with great efficiency. But until now, no one had been able to make extremely thin layers of MoSe2 in significant quantities and directly observe the evolution of their electronic structure. This is important because a material’s electronic behavior can change fundamentally, and in useful ways, when its electrons are confined to such thin layers.

To make the sheets, researchers heated molybdenum and selenium in a vacuum chamber until they evaporated. The two elements combined and were deposited as a thin, high-quality film. By tweaking the process, known as molecular beam epitaxy, the scientists were able to grow films that were one to eight atomic layers thick.


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