7Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed a new method to create a perfect edge in two-dimensional materials using a "magic" chemical. Battulga Munkhbat, the first author of the paper, stated that their method will make it possible to control the edges – atom by atom – in a way that is both easy and measurable. For this, they will use only mild heating together with abundant, environmental-friendly chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide. Munkhbat is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Physics at the Chalmers University of Technology.
According to the study published in Nature Communication, it is a challenging scientific problem to create the perfect edges of thin materials as they are very different in comparison to the main body. The researchers had approached various methods to control the edges of thin material including chemical, surface engineering, thermal annealing, plasma treatment, and other techniques. However, many of these methods faced several issues like complexity, damage of excitonic properties, lack of precision, and harsh experimental conditions.
The new method surprised the researchers as it includes a combination of standard top-down lithographic methods with a new anisotropic wet etching process that can create a perfect edge in thin materials.
Timur Shegai, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers, was quoted by Phys.org as saying, "This method opens up new and unprecedented possibilities for van der Waals materials (layered 2-D materials). We can now combine edge physics with 2-D physics in one single material. It is an extremely fascinating development.”
Munkhbat informed that the magic chemical operates in a self-limiting power, removing unwanted material atom-by-atom and results in edges at the atomically sharp limit.
According to the study, such materials often attract significant research attention, as they can develop crucial advances within in nanoscience and technology, with potential applications ranging from quantum electronics to new types of nano-devices. These research are conducted in Europe's biggest ever research initiative, Graphene Flagship in coordination with the Chalmers University of Technology.