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For years, researchers have been trying to find ways to grow an optimal nanowire, using crystals with perfectly aligned layers all along the wire.
A team of Nebraska Engineering researchers—Peter Sutter, Eli Sutter and Shawn Wimer—sees an advantage to natural imperfection.
Research - Letter - April - Edition - Nature
Through their research, highlighted in a letter published in the April 22 edition of the journal Nature, the group found that a defect—a **** dislocation—that occurs in the growth process causes the layers of crystals to rotate along an axis as they form. This defect creates twists that give these nanowires advantages, particularly in electronics and light emission.
"In layered nanowires, we basically have a new architecture that implements a crystal twist between two-dimensional materials," said Peter Sutter, professor of electrical and computer engineering. "We take the approach that you can (either) make such twist moiré structures or have them make themselves, and when we let the wires do the job on their own, nature introduces this defect, a twist."
Materials - Interfaces - Crystals - Crystals - Top
Typically, materials with twisted interfaces are artificially created from two atomically thin 2-D crystals. When these crystals are painstakingly placed on top of each other, a small rotation among them—an interlayer twist—causes a moiré, or a beat pattern that changes with the twist angle and is much larger than the spacing of the atoms in the material. The motion of electrons in this beat pattern can cause new phenomena, such as superconductivity or systematic changes in the color of emitted light.
The Sutters' team took a different approach to realizing these twists by growing nanowires that consist of 2-D layers. They took small particles of gold, heated them up and inundated them with a vapor of germanium sulfide. At high temperatures, the gold particles melted and alloyed with the germanium sulfide.
"At some point, it gets saturated and can't take any more of it in....
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