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ENERGY EFFICIENCY New superlattice material for devices with high energy efficiency

| Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

A team of physicists from Stony Brook University in the United States, led by Jennifer Cano PhD, has created a brand-new type of material. Layered by two structures, it forms a superlattice which at high temperatures is a highly efficient insulator that is capable of conducting current without wasting heat.

Physicists at Stony Brook University have developed a new type of material that is a highly efficient insulator at high temperatures, capable of conducting electricity without wasting heat.
Physicists at Stony Brook University have developed a new type of material that is a highly efficient insulator at high temperatures, capable of conducting electricity without wasting heat.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pexels )

The new material was created and developed in a laboratory chamber. Over time, atoms attach to it and the material starts to grow, similar to the way that layered candies like jawbreakers are formed. To the research team’s surprise, this process forms a novel ordered superlattice, which the researchers tested for quantized electrical transport.

An example of a superlattice. In this case, a two-dimensional one made of graphene.
An example of a superlattice. In this case, a two-dimensional one made of graphene.
(Source: Nature 2D Materials and Applications)

At the core of the team’s research is something known as the Quantum Anomalous Hall Effect (QAHE), which describes an insulator that conducts current with zero dissipation in discreet surface channels. QAHE current does not lose energy as it travels, which means that it’s similar to a superconducting current that has the potential, if industrialized, to improve energy efficiency in a range of electronic technologies and applications.

The research team’s findings were published in the journal Nature Physics. The team reckons that with further research and development, these findings could form the basis of new, electrical conductors with better energy efficiency.

"The main advance of this work is a higher temperature QAHE in a superlattice, and we show that this superlattice is highly tunable through electron irradiation and thermal vacancy distribution, thus presenting a tunable and more robust platform for the QAHE," says Cano, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University.

In the research paper, Cano and colleagues claim that they are able to advance this platform to other topological magnetics. According to Cano, the ultimate goal of the team is to use this material to help influence and transform future quantum electronics.

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