DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2017-10-09 08:00:06
    • Article ID: 682422

    Injecting Electrons Jolts 2-D Structure Into New Atomic Pattern

    Berkeley Lab study is first to show potential of energy-efficient next-gen electronic memory

    • Credit: Ying Wang/Berkeley Lab

      Schematic shows the configuration for structural phase transition on a molybdenum ditelluride monolayer (MoTe2, shown as yellow and blue spheres), which is anchored by a metal electrodes (top gate and ground). The ionic liquid covering the monolayer and electrodes enables a high density of electrons to populate the monolayer, leading to changes in the structural lattice from a hexagonal (2H) to monoclinic (1T’) pattern.

    The same electrostatic charge that can make hair stand on end and attach balloons to clothing could be an efficient way to drive atomically thin electronic memory devices of the future, according to a new study led by researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).    

    In a study published today in the journal Nature, scientists have found a way to reversibly change the atomic structure of a 2-D material by injecting, or "doping," it with electrons. The process uses far less energy than current methods for changing the configuration of a material's structure.

    “We show, for the first time, that it is possible to inject electrons to drive structural phase changes in materials,” said study principal investigator Xiang Zhang, senior faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a professor at UC Berkeley. “By adding electrons into a material, the overall energy goes up and will tip off the balance, resulting in the atomic structure rearranging to a new pattern that is more stable. Such electron doping-driven structural phase transitions at the 2-D limit is not only important in fundamental physics; it also opens the door for new electronic memory and low-power switching in the next generation of ultra-thin devices.” 

    Switching a material's structural configuration from one phase to another is the fundamental, binary characteristic that underlies today's digital circuitry. Electronic components capable of this phase transition have shrunk down to paper-thin sizes, but they are still considered to be bulk, 3-D layers by scientists. By comparison, 2-D monolayer materials are composed of a single layer of atoms or molecules whose thickness is 100,000 times as small as a human hair.

    “The idea of electron doping to alter a material's atomic structure is unique to 2-D materials, which are much more electrically tunable compared with 3-D bulk materials,” said study co-lead author Jun Xiao, a graduate student in Zhang’s lab.

    The classic approach to driving the structural transition of materials involves heating to above 500 degrees Celsius. Such methods are energy-intensive and not feasible for practical applications. In addition, the excess heat can significantly reduce the life span of components in integrated circuits.

    A number of research groups have also investigated the use of chemicals to alter the configuration of atoms in semiconductor materials, but that process is still difficult to control and has not been widely adopted by industry.

    “Here we use electrostatic doping to control the atomic configuration of a two-dimensional material,” said study co-lead author Ying Wang, another graduate student in Zhang’s lab. "Compared to the use of chemicals, our method is reversible and free of impurities. It has greater potential for integration into the manufacturing of cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices."

    The researchers used molybdenum ditelluride (MoTe2), a typical 2-D semiconductor, and coated it with an ionic liquid (DEME-TFSI), which has an ultra-high capacitance, or ability to store electric charges. The layer of ionic liquid allowed the researchers to inject the semiconductor with electrons at a density of a hundred trillion to a quadrillion per square centimeter. It is an electron density that is one to two orders higher in magnitude than what could be achieved in 3-D bulk materials, the researchers said.

    Through spectroscopic analysis, the researchers determined that the injection of electrons changed the atoms’ arrangement of the molybdenum ditelluride from a hexagonal shape to one that is monoclinic, which has more of a slanted cuboid shape. Once the electrons were retracted, the crystal structure returned to its original hexagonal pattern, showing that the phase transition is reversible. Moreover, these two types of atom arrangements have very different symmetries, providing a large contrast for applications in optical components.

    "Such an atomically thin device could have dual functions, serving simultaneously as optical or electrical transistors, and hence broaden the functionalities of the electronics used in our daily lives," said Wang.  

    This work was supported by DOE's Office of Science and by the National Science Foundation.

    ###

    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

    DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

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    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    First measurements of heat flux in plasmas experientially sheds light on models relying on classical thermal transport.

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    The Fusion Recurrent Neural Network reliably forecasts disruptive and destructive events in tokamaks.

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    The spin direction of protons was reversed, for the first time, using a nine-magnet device, potentially helping tease out details about protons that affect medical imaging and more.

    Catalyst Renders Nerve Agents Harmless

    Catalyst Renders Nerve Agents Harmless

    A team of scientists including researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has studied a catalyst that decomposes nerve agents, eliminating their harmful and lethal effects. The research was published Friday, April 19, in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. "Our work is part of an ongoing, multiagency effort to protect soldiers and civilians from chemical warfare agents (CWAs)," said Anatoly Frenkel, a physicist with a joint appointment at Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University and the lead author on the paper.

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Design principles lead to a catalyst that splits water in a low pH environment, vital for generating solar fuels.

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

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    The Weak Side of the Proton

    The Weak Side of the Proton

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    Electric Skyrmions Charge Ahead for Next-Generation Data Storage

    Electric Skyrmions Charge Ahead for Next-Generation Data Storage

    A team of researchers led by Berkeley Lab has observed chirality for the first time in polar skyrmions in a material with reversible electrical properties - a combination that could lead to more powerful data storage devices that continue to hold information, even after they've been turned off.

    CEBAF Turns on the Charm

    CEBAF Turns on the Charm

    The world's most advanced particle accelerator for investigating the quark structure of the atom's nucleus has just charmed physicists with a new capability. The production of charm quarks in J/ψ (J/psi) particles by CEBAF at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility confirms that the facility has expanded the realm of precision nuclear physics research with electron beams to higher energies.

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Physicists develop a universal mathematical description that suggests that proton-neutron pairs in a nucleus may explain why their associated quarks have lower average momenta than predicted.


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    Department of Energy Announces $20 Million for Artificial Intelligence Research

    Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a total of $20 million in funding for innovative research and development in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning.

    Tim Knewitz named Argonne National Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer

    Tim Knewitz named Argonne National Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer

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    Brookhaven Joins the IBM Q Network Hub at Oak Ridge National Lab

    Brookhaven Joins the IBM Q Network Hub at Oak Ridge National Lab

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    David Reis named head of PULSE Institute for ultrafast science

    David Reis named head of PULSE Institute for ultrafast science

    Long before David Reis joined the faculty of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, he was helping lay the groundwork for the lab's first-of-a-kind X-ray free-electron laser, or XFEL, and the revolutionary science that followed its opening in 2009. Now he's director of the PULSE Institute, which was founded by SLAC and Stanford with the express purpose of exploiting the possibilities for ultrafast science at that X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

    Head of NSTX-U research is appointed deputy director for research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Head of NSTX-U research is appointed deputy director for research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Jon Menard, the head of research on the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade, has been named deputy director for research. Michael Zarnstorff, who held the position for 10 years, will become the chief chief scientist at PPPL, a position that will oversee strategic scientific planning.

    Argonne scientist advances energy sciences through professional leadership

    Argonne scientist advances energy sciences through professional leadership

    Ralph Muehleisen of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recently re-elected to the Board of Directors of IBPSA-USA, the U.S. affiliate of the International Building Performance Simulation Association. IBPSA is a global leader in the promotion of building simulation science and one of the largest professional organizations in the world for building scientists and engineers.

    Brookhaven Lab Publishes Second Edition of Nuclear Nonproliferation Textbook

    Brookhaven Lab Publishes Second Edition of Nuclear Nonproliferation Textbook

    Brookhaven Lab has published the second edition of Deterring Nuclear Proliferation: The Importance of IAEA Safeguards, a textbook that provides a history of the origins of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and introduces the ways in which IAEA verifies nation states' nuclear nonproliferation commitments.

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference Offers Girls Fun and Inspiration in STEM Fields

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference Offers Girls Fun and Inspiration in STEM Fields

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics on Friday, March 22, at Princeton University, seeks to change the statistics that show women still lag far behind men in the STEM fields. The conference offers 7th to 10th-grade girls hands-on science activities, exciting experiments, and talks and a keynote speech by early-career female scientists.


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    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light

    First measurements of heat flux in plasmas experientially sheds light on models relying on classical thermal transport.

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy

    The Fusion Recurrent Neural Network reliably forecasts disruptive and destructive events in tokamaks.

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    Spin Flipper Upends Protons

    The spin direction of protons was reversed, for the first time, using a nine-magnet device, potentially helping tease out details about protons that affect medical imaging and more.

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Splitting Water Fast! Catalyst Works Faster than Mother Nature

    Design principles lead to a catalyst that splits water in a low pH environment, vital for generating solar fuels.

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Sea Quark Spin Surprise!

    Antiquark spin contribution to proton spin depends on flavor, which could help unlock secrets about the nuclear structure of atoms that make up nearly all visible matter in our universe.

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    The Weak Side of the Proton

    A precision measurement of the proton's weak charge narrows the search for new physics.

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Fast-Moving Pairs May Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery

    Physicists develop a universal mathematical description that suggests that proton-neutron pairs in a nucleus may explain why their associated quarks have lower average momenta than predicted.

    Team Takes Fluoride from Taps and Toothpaste to Batteries

    Team Takes Fluoride from Taps and Toothpaste to Batteries

    With user facilities, researchers devise novel battery chemistries to help make fluoride batteries a reality.

    Quarks Under Pressure in the Proton

    Quarks Under Pressure in the Proton

    Pressure in the middle of a proton is about 10 times higher than in a neutron star.

    Magnetic Levitation of Ultracold Neutrons Yields New Measurement of the Neutron Lifetime

    Magnetic Levitation of Ultracold Neutrons Yields New Measurement of the Neutron Lifetime

    Storing extremely slow neutrons in a novel trap enables precise measurement of a basic property of particle physics.


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