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Digital nanofluidics – manipulating water droplets on surfaces

Existing nanofluidic approaches to facilitate the manipulation of ultra-small amounts of liquids usually require their confinement within quasi-1D nanochannels or nanopores. In these devices, the movement of the liquid objects must follow pre-designed routes. Researchers have now demonstrated a new platform for digital nanofluidics where water nanodroplets are trapped between a mica surface and graphene. Here, with the assistance of a graphene protection layer and ice-like lubricant monolayer, water nanodroplets can be moved, merged, separated, and patterned into regular arrays freely within a two-dimensional channel.

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New control over topological insulator

Scientists investigating the electronic properties of ultra-thin films of new materials — topological insulators (TIs) — have demonstrated a new method to tune their unique properties using strain. Topological insulators are new materials with surfaces that host a new quantum state of matter and are insensitive to contaminants, defects and impurities. Surface electrons in TIs behave like massless Dirac particles in a similar way to electrons in graphene. Moreover, surface currents in topological insulators also preserve their spin orientation and coherence on a macro scale.

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This Week in Science

Hexing Complement | Light Alkanes, Heavy Metals | Cas9 Solved | A Palladium 1–2 Punch | Iron in Graphene | G Below Sea | Where Do You Want Your Leg? | Touchy-Feely Genes | Quick, Quick, Slow | Clearance of Chronic Virus | Hidden Diversity | Crossed Homodimer | Making a Histone Mark

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Atomically thick metal membranes

For the first time researchers have shown that freestanding metal membranes consisting of a single layer of atoms can be stable under ambient conditions. The success and promise of atomically thin carbon, in which carbon atoms are arranged in a honeycomb lattice, also known as graphene has triggered enormous enthusiasm for other two dimensional materials, for example, hexagonal boron nitride and molybdenum sulphide. These materials share a common structural aspect, namely, they are layered materials that one can think of as individual atomic planes that can be pulled away from their bulk 3D structure.

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Atomically thin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells created

A lot of research has been done on graphene recently — carbon flakes, consisting of only one layer of atoms. As it turns out, there are other materials too which exhibit remarkable properties if they are arranged in a single layer. One of them is tungsten diselenide, which could be used for photovoltaics. Ultrathin layers made of Tungsten and Selenium have now been created; experiments show that they may be used as flexible, semi-transparent solar cells.

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Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

U of Washington

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

“We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“These are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment,” Ross said. “This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies,” Ross said.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces in a method inspired by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to the University of Manchester for isolating one-atom-thick flakes of carbon, called graphene, from a piece of graphite.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could open doors for using light as interconnects to run nano-scale computer chips instead of standard devices that operate off the movement of electrons, or electricity. The latter process creates a lot of heat and wastes power, whereas sending light through a chip to achieve the same purpose would be highly efficient.

“A promising solution is to replace the electrical interconnect with optical ones, which will maintain the high bandwidth but consume less energy,” Xu said. “Our work makes it possible to make highly integrated and energy-efficient devices in areas such as lighting, optical communication and nano lasers.”

The research team is working on more efficient ways to create these thin LEDs and looking at what happens when two-dimensional materials are stacked in different ways. Additionally, these materials have been shown to react with polarized light in new ways that no other materials can, and researchers also will continue to pursue those applications.

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material

U of Washington

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material, tungsten diselenide, on silicon oxide. The ability to see the contrast of the single layer of atoms against the background shows how strongly these materials interact with light.

Co-authors are Aaron Jones and David Cobden of  the UW; Philip Klement of Justus Liebig University in Germany; Nirmal Ghimire, Jiaqiang Yan and D.G. Mandrus of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe and Kenji Kitamura of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan; and Wang Yao of the University of Hong Kong.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, the University Grant Council of Hong Kong and the Croucher Foundation. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

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Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

U of Washington

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

“We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“These are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment,” Ross said. “This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies,” Ross said.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces in a method inspired by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to the University of Manchester for isolating one-atom-thick flakes of carbon, called graphene, from a piece of graphite.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could open doors for using light as interconnects to run nano-scale computer chips instead of standard devices that operate off the movement of electrons, or electricity. The latter process creates a lot of heat and wastes power, whereas sending light through a chip to achieve the same purpose would be highly efficient.

“A promising solution is to replace the electrical interconnect with optical ones, which will maintain the high bandwidth but consume less energy,” Xu said. “Our work makes it possible to make highly integrated and energy-efficient devices in areas such as lighting, optical communication and nano lasers.”

The research team is working on more efficient ways to create these thin LEDs and looking at what happens when two-dimensional materials are stacked in different ways. Additionally, these materials have been shown to react with polarized light in new ways that no other materials can, and researchers also will continue to pursue those applications.

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material

U of Washington

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material, tungsten diselenide, on silicon oxide. The ability to see the contrast of the single layer of atoms against the background shows how strongly these materials interact with light.

Co-authors are Aaron Jones and David Cobden of  the UW; Philip Klement of Justus Liebig University in Germany; Nirmal Ghimire, Jiaqiang Yan and D.G. Mandrus of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe and Kenji Kitamura of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan; and Wang Yao of the University of Hong Kong.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, the University Grant Council of Hong Kong and the Croucher Foundation. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

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Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

U of Washington

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

“We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“These are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment,” Ross said. “This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies,” Ross said.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces in a method inspired by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to the University of Manchester for isolating one-atom-thick flakes of carbon, called graphene, from a piece of graphite.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could open doors for using light as interconnects to run nano-scale computer chips instead of standard devices that operate off the movement of electrons, or electricity. The latter process creates a lot of heat and wastes power, whereas sending light through a chip to achieve the same purpose would be highly efficient.

“A promising solution is to replace the electrical interconnect with optical ones, which will maintain the high bandwidth but consume less energy,” Xu said. “Our work makes it possible to make highly integrated and energy-efficient devices in areas such as lighting, optical communication and nano lasers.”

The research team is working on more efficient ways to create these thin LEDs and looking at what happens when two-dimensional materials are stacked in different ways. Additionally, these materials have been shown to react with polarized light in new ways that no other materials can, and researchers also will continue to pursue those applications.

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material

U of Washington

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material, tungsten diselenide, on silicon oxide. The ability to see the contrast of the single layer of atoms against the background shows how strongly these materials interact with light.

Co-authors are Aaron Jones and David Cobden of  the UW; Philip Klement of Justus Liebig University in Germany; Nirmal Ghimire, Jiaqiang Yan and D.G. Mandrus of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe and Kenji Kitamura of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan; and Wang Yao of the University of Hong Kong.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, the University Grant Council of Hong Kong and the Croucher Foundation. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

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Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

U of Washington

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

“We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“These are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment,” Ross said. “This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies,” Ross said.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces in a method inspired by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to the University of Manchester for isolating one-atom-thick flakes of carbon, called graphene, from a piece of graphite.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could open doors for using light as interconnects to run nano-scale computer chips instead of standard devices that operate off the movement of electrons, or electricity. The latter process creates a lot of heat and wastes power, whereas sending light through a chip to achieve the same purpose would be highly efficient.

“A promising solution is to replace the electrical interconnect with optical ones, which will maintain the high bandwidth but consume less energy,” Xu said. “Our work makes it possible to make highly integrated and energy-efficient devices in areas such as lighting, optical communication and nano lasers.”

The research team is working on more efficient ways to create these thin LEDs and looking at what happens when two-dimensional materials are stacked in different ways. Additionally, these materials have been shown to react with polarized light in new ways that no other materials can, and researchers also will continue to pursue those applications.

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material

U of Washington

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material, tungsten diselenide, on silicon oxide. The ability to see the contrast of the single layer of atoms against the background shows how strongly these materials interact with light.

Co-authors are Aaron Jones and David Cobden of  the UW; Philip Klement of Justus Liebig University in Germany; Nirmal Ghimire, Jiaqiang Yan and D.G. Mandrus of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe and Kenji Kitamura of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan; and Wang Yao of the University of Hong Kong.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, the University Grant Council of Hong Kong and the Croucher Foundation. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

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Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

U of Washington

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

“We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“These are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment,” Ross said. “This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies,” Ross said.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces in a method inspired by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to the University of Manchester for isolating one-atom-thick flakes of carbon, called graphene, from a piece of graphite.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could open doors for using light as interconnects to run nano-scale computer chips instead of standard devices that operate off the movement of electrons, or electricity. The latter process creates a lot of heat and wastes power, whereas sending light through a chip to achieve the same purpose would be highly efficient.

“A promising solution is to replace the electrical interconnect with optical ones, which will maintain the high bandwidth but consume less energy,” Xu said. “Our work makes it possible to make highly integrated and energy-efficient devices in areas such as lighting, optical communication and nano lasers.”

The research team is working on more efficient ways to create these thin LEDs and looking at what happens when two-dimensional materials are stacked in different ways. Additionally, these materials have been shown to react with polarized light in new ways that no other materials can, and researchers also will continue to pursue those applications.

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material

U of Washington

A close-up view of a single layer of atoms of the semiconductor material, tungsten diselenide, on silicon oxide. The ability to see the contrast of the single layer of atoms against the background shows how strongly these materials interact with light.

Co-authors are Aaron Jones and David Cobden of  the UW; Philip Klement of Justus Liebig University in Germany; Nirmal Ghimire, Jiaqiang Yan and D.G. Mandrus of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe and Kenji Kitamura of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan; and Wang Yao of the University of Hong Kong.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong, the University Grant Council of Hong Kong and the Croucher Foundation. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

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