Researchers from the University of Basel have announced that they have equipped an ultrathin semiconductor with superconducting contacts for the first time. The materials used are extremely thin, featuring novel electronic and optical properties the researchers believe could pave the way for previously unimagined applications. When the ultrathin semiconductors are combined with superconductors, they are expected to lead to new quantum phenomena and find use in quantum technology.
The semiconductor is one of the most critical components in modern electronic devices ranging from smartphones to televisions and everything in between. As a result, researchers have focused on developing new semiconductors made up of a single monolayer of semiconducting material. Some naturally occurring material offers semiconducting properties using monolayers that are stacked to form a three-dimensional crystal. Researchers can separate those layers in the laboratory setting, which are no thicker than a single molecule, and then use them to build electronic components.
Ultrathin semiconductors can deliver unique characteristics that are difficult to control otherwise. They’re able to use electric fields to influence the magnetic moments of the electrons inside. The semiconducting monolayers also have complex quantum mechanical phenomena taking place inside that could have applications in quantum technology. Researchers are currently investigating how to form new synthetic materials using thin semiconductors known as van der Waals heterostructures.
While research has been going on into stacking those layers, this research marks the first time a monolayer has been combined with superconducting contacts. Researchers from the University of Basel fitted a monolayer of the semiconductor molybdenum disulfide with superconducting contacts. The video above outlines the breakthrough the researchers have made. The importance of the breakthrough is so interesting to researchers because they believe components of this kind could exhibit new properties and physical phenomena.