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  • richardmitnick 9:23 am on November 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Oxygen like sulfur and selenium is part of the oxygen or “chalcogen” family of elements., Scanning tunneling microscopy,   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “The Beauty of Imperfections: Linking Atomic Defects to 2D Materials’ Electronic Properties” 

    Berkeley Logo

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    November 20, 2019
    Theresa Duque
    tnduque@lbl.gov
    (510) 495-2418

    Scientists at Berkeley Lab reveal oxygen’s hidden talent for filling in atomic gaps in TMDs; and the surprising role of electron spin in conductivity.

    1
    Scanning tunneling microscopy image of an oxygen substituting sulfur (left), and a sulfur vacancy (right) in tungsten disulfide. In comparison, a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers (nm) in diameter, and a strand of human hair is about 100,000 nm wide. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

    Like any material, atomically thin, 2D semiconductors known as TMDs or transition metal dichalcogenides are not perfect, but their imperfections can actually be a good thing.

    Understanding how defects are structured at the atomic scale, how they are created, and how they interact with electrons are the first steps to designing new advanced materials. However, no one has been able to link useful properties like optical absorption and emission, conductivity, or catalytic function to specific defects in TMDs.

    Now, two studies led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have revealed surprising details on how some atomic defects emerge in TMDs, and how those defects shape the 2D material’s electronic properties. Their findings could provide a more versatile yet targeted platform for designing 2D materials for quantum information science and smaller, more powerful next-generation light-based electronics (optoelectronics).

    A quantum tip for 2D materials

    In the world of materials science, many researchers assumed that the most abundant defects in TMDs were the result of missing atoms or “vacancies” of sulfur in tungsten disulfide (WS2), or selenium vacancies in molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2).

    But as reported in Nature Communications, the researchers found that the defects previously observed with other methods were actually created by oxygen atoms replacing sulfur or selenium atoms, said D. Frank Ogletree, a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry and a co-author of the two studies.

    Oxygen, like sulfur and selenium, is part of the oxygen or “chalcogen” family of elements. And since chalcogens share similar properties, there isn’t much change in conductivity when an oxygen atom takes the place of a sulfur or selenium atom in a TMD crystal structure, he said.

    2
    Atomic force microscopy image of sulfur vacancy in tungsten disulfide. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

    “In other words, it’s like exchanging one kind of apple for another,” explained co-lead author Bruno Schuler, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. “So when an oxygen atom fills in for a missing sulfur or selenium atom, it effectively restores the TMD’s electronic properties.”

    Co-lead author with Schuler is Sara Barja, who was a postdoctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division at the time of the Nature Communications study.

    Key to their finding was the use of the Molecular Foundry’s atomic force microscope (AFM), with a single carbon monoxide (CO) molecule acting as an ultrasharp “tip” or probe, and scanning tunneling microscope (STM). They also benefited from state-of-the-art calculations carried out by scientists from Berkeley Lab’s Center for Computational Study of Excited State Phenomena in Energy Materials (C2SEPEM).

    When used with AFM, the CO-tip images the surface atoms at a very high resolution that’s not possible with conventional techniques, and precisely pinpoints the defect’s atomic site; STM provides the defect’s unique electronic fingerprint.

    The combined insights from both of these methods, combined with detailed calculations performed at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), ultimately helped us understand what these defects are and why they behave the way they do,” said author Alexander Weber-Bargioni, who led the studies. Weber-Bargioni is the facility director for Imaging and Manipulation of Nanostructures at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry.

    NERSC at LBNL

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer, named after Grace Hopper, One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer

    NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer

    NERSC GPFS for Life Sciences


    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF computer cluster in 2003.

    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.

    Future:

    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supeercomputer

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    The unexpected power of an orbiting electron’s spin.

    In the researchers’ second study, published in Physical Review Letters, they demonstrated how to deliberately create chalcogen vacancies by heating a sample of WS2 in vacuum up to 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), resulting in a thermal energy that causes the atoms to vibrate. “The vibrations kick out one of the sulfur atoms, creating an atomic hole in the material’s crystalline structure,” explained lead author Schuler.

    The scientists also discovered that “spin-orbit interaction” – which relates to the properties of electrons orbiting around an atom’s nucleus and in their own inherent directional spin – plays a significant role in the electronic structure of chalcogen vacancies.

    “In many cases the electron orbital and spin are autonomous and do not care about each other,” he said. “But in some cases, as we discovered in our study, they interact and form hybrid states of electronic structure.”

    Schuler noted that the impact of spin-orbit interaction on the electronic structure of defect sites in TMDs wasn’t clearly understood before this study.

    “It wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. We’re the first to prove it not only by quantitatively determining the magnitude of spin-orbit coupling but also by directly imaging the defect’s electronic orbitals,” he said.

    Now that the researchers have successfully demonstrated how to create chalcogen vacancies in TMDs, Schuler said that they plan to explore the engineering of atomic defects in other types of 2D materials, such as the creation of distinct spin-polarized states, which would be useful for realizing atomic quantum light emitters and other such devices.

    Co-corresponding author Jeff Neaton, a senior faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and professor of physics at UC Berkeley, said that Berkeley Lab offers a unique venue for carrying out multidisciplinary studies.

    “By combining novel experiments at the Molecular Foundry with leading-edge theory, and computing defects’ properties at NERSC with computational methods developed at C2SEPEM, we are steps closer to understanding how common defects can be used to tune optoelectronic properties in 2D materials,” he said.

    Participants in the Nature Communications study involved researchers from Berkeley Lab; UC Berkeley; the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU-CSIC, Basque Foundation for Science, and Donostia International Physics Center, Spain; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; the Korea Institute of Science and Technology; Pusan National University, Korea; and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

    Participants in the Physical Review Letters study involved researchers from Berkeley Lab; UC Berkeley; Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Technical University of Munich; University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU-CSIC, Basque Foundation for Science, and Donostia International Physics Center, Spain.

    Postdoctoral researchers Christoph Kastl and Christopher Chen of the Molecular Foundry grew the tungsten disulfide samples for the Nature Communications and Physical Review Letters studies; and Hyejin Ryu, a doctoral researcher at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), grew samples of molybdenum diselenide for the Nature Communications study.

    LBNL ALS

    The work for both studies was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, including the Computational Materials Sciences Center for Computational Study of Excited State Phenomena in Energy Materials (C2SEPEM); research at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE Office of Science user facility that specializes in nanoscale science; and resources at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). Resources at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) were used for the Nature Communications study.

    The U.S. National Science Foundation provided additional funding for the Nature Communications study, and the DOE Early Career Research Program provided additional funding for the Physical Review Letters study.

    NERSC and the ALS are also DOE Office of Science user facilities.

    See the full article here .

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    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

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  • richardmitnick 8:59 am on July 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A team of physicists at University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hamburg have taken a different approach., Entangled Majorana quasiparticles produced by splitting an electron into two halves are surprisingly stable., , , Majorana quasiparticles, , , , , Scanning tunneling microscopy, , They remember how they've been moved around a property that could be exploited for storing information., They've started with a rhenium superconductor a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance when supercooled to around 6 Kelvin (–267°C; 449°F)., , U Hamburg,   

    From University of Illinois and U Hamburg, via Science Alert: “An Elusive Particle That Acts as Its Own Antiparticle Has Just Been Imaged” 

    U Illinois bloc

    From University of Illinois Chicago

    and

    2
    U Hamburg

    via

    30 JULY 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    3
    (Palacio-Morales et al. Science Advances, 2019)

    New images of the Majorana fermion have brought physicists a step closer to harnessing the mysterious objects for quantum computing.

    These strange objects – particles that acts as their own antiparticles – have a vast as-yet untapped potential to act as qubits, the quantum bits that are the basic units of information in a quantum computer.

    IBM iconic image of Quantum computer

    They’re equivalent to binary bits in a traditional computer. But, where regular bits can represent a 1 or a 0, qubits can be either 1, 0 or both at the same time, a state known as quantum superposition. Quantum superposition is actually pretty hard to maintain, although we’re getting better at it.

    This is where Majorana quasiparticles come in. These are excitations in the collective behaviour of electrons that act like Majorana fermions, and they have a number of properties that make them an attractive candidate for qubits.

    Normally, a particle and an antiparticle will annihilate each other, but entangled Majorana quasiparticles produced by splitting an electron into two halves are surprisingly stable. In addition, they remember how they’ve been moved around, a property that could be exploited for storing information.

    But the quasiparticles have to remain separated by a sufficient distance. This can be done with a special nanowire, but a team of physicists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hamburg in Germany have taken a different approach.

    They’ve started with a rhenium superconductor, a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance when supercooled to around 6 Kelvin (–267°C; 449°F).

    On top of these superconductors, the researchers deposited nanoscale islands of single layers of magnetic iron atoms. This creates what is known as a topological superconductor – that is, a superconductor that contains a topological knot.

    “This topological knot is similar to the hole in a donut,” explained physicist Dirk Morr of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    “You can deform the donut into a coffee mug without losing the hole, but if you want to destroy the hole, you have to do something pretty dramatic, such as eating the donut.”

    When electrons flow through the superconductor, the team predicted that Majorana fermions would appear in a one-dimensional mode at the edges of the iron islands – around the so-called donut hole. And that by using a scanning tunneling microscope – an instrument used for imaging surfaces at the atomic level – they would see this visualised as a bright line.

    Sure enough, a bright line showed up.

    It’s not the first time Majorana fermions have been imaged, but it does represent a step forward. And just last month, a different team of researchers revealed that they had been able to turn Majorana quasiparticles on and off.

    But being able to visualise these particles, the researchers said, brings us closer to using them as qubits.

    “The next step will be to figure out how we can quantum engineer these Majorana qubits on quantum chips and manipulate them to obtain an exponential increase in our computing power,” Morr said.

    The research has been published in Science Advances.

    See the full article here .

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    The University

    Universität Hamburg is the largest institution for research and education in northern Germany. As one of the country’s largest universities, we offer a diverse range of degree programs and excellent research opportunities. The University boasts numerous interdisciplinary projects in a broad range of fields and an extensive partner network of leading regional, national, and international higher education and research institutions.
    Sustainable science and scholarship

    Universität Hamburg is committed to sustainability. All our faculties have taken great strides towards sustainability in both research and teaching.
    Excellent research

    As part of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments, Universität Hamburg has been granted clusters of excellence for 4 core research areas: Advanced Imaging of Matter (photon and nanosciences), Climate, Climatic Change, and Society (CliCCS) (climate research), Understanding Written Artefacts (manuscript research) and Quantum Universe (mathematics, particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology).

    An equally important core research area is Infection Research, in which researchers investigate the structure, dynamics, and mechanisms of infection processes to promote the development of new treatment methods and therapies.
    Outstanding variety: over 170 degree programs

    Universität Hamburg offers approximately 170 degree programs within its eight faculties:

    Faculty of Law
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    Universität Hamburg is also home to several museums and collections, such as the Zoological Museum, the Herbarium Hamburgense, the Geological-Paleontological Museum, the Loki Schmidt Garden, and the Hamburg Observatory.
    History

    Universität Hamburg was founded in 1919 by local citizens. Important founding figures include Senator Werner von Melle and the merchant Edmund Siemers. Nobel Prize winners such as the physicists Otto Stern, Wolfgang Pauli, and Isidor Rabi taught and researched at the University. Many other distinguished scholars, such as Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky, Aby Warburg, William Stern, Agathe Lasch, Magdalene Schoch, Emil Artin, Ralf Dahrendorf, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, also worked here.
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    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community of students, scholars, and alumni is changing the world.

    With our land-grant heritage as a foundation, we pioneer innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Our transformative learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant, societal impact.

    The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, adjacent to the Chicago Loop. The second campus established under the University of Illinois system, UIC is also the largest university in the Chicago area, having approximately 30,000 students[9] enrolled in 15 colleges.

    UIC operates the largest medical school in the United States with research expenditures exceeding $412 million and consistently ranks in the top 50 U.S. institutions for research expenditures.[10][11][12] In the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of colleges and universities, UIC ranked as the 129th best in the “national universities” category.[13] The 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UIC as the 18th best in the world among universities less than 50 years old.[14]

    UIC competes in NCAA Division I Horizon League as the UIC Flames in sports. The Credit Union 1 Arena (formerly UIC Pavilion) is the Flames’ venue for home games.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:37 pm on October 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 'Choosy' Electronic Correlations Dominate Metallic State of Iron Superconductor, , , , , , , , Scanning tunneling microscopy   

    From Brookhaven National Lab: “‘Choosy’ Electronic Correlations Dominate Metallic State of Iron Superconductor” 

    From Brookhaven National Lab

    October 3, 2018
    Ariana Tantillo
    atantillo@bnl.gov

    Finding could lead to a universal explanation of how two radically different types of materials—an insulator and a metal—can perfectly carry electrical current at relatively high temperatures.

    1
    Scientists discovered strong electronic correlations in certain orbitals, or energy shells, in the metallic state of the high-temperature superconductor iron selenide (FeSe). A schematic of the arrangement of the Se and Fe atoms is shown on the left; on the right is an image of the Se atoms in the termination layer of an FeSe crystal. Only the electron orbitals from the Fe atoms contribute to the orbital selectivity in the metallic state.

    Two families of high-temperature superconductors (HTS)—materials that can conduct electricity without energy loss at unusually high (but still quite cold) temperatures—may be more closely related than scientists originally thought.

    Beyond their layered crystal structures and the fact that they become superconducting when “doped” with atoms of other elements and cooled to a critical temperature, copper-based and iron-based HTS seemingly have little in common. After all, one material is normally an insulator (copper-based), and the other is a metal (iron-based). But a multi-institutional team of scientists has now presented new evidence suggesting that these radically different materials secretly share an important feature: strong electronic correlations. Such correlations occur when electrons move together in a highly coordinated way.

    “Theory has long predicted that strong electronic correlations can remain hidden in plain sight in a Hund’s metal,” said team member J.C. Seamus Davis, a physicist in the Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University. “A Hund’s metal is a unique new type of electronic fluid in which the electrons from different orbitals, or energy shells, maintain very different degrees of correlation as they move through the material. By visualizing the orbital identity and correlation strength for different electrons in the metal iron selenide (FeSe), we discovered that orbital-selective strong correlations are present in this iron-based HTS.”

    It is yet to be determined if such correlations are characteristic of iron-based HTS in general. If proven to exist across both families of materials, they would provide the universal key ingredient in the recipe for high-temperature superconductivity. Finding this recipe has been a holy grail of condensed matter physics for decades, as it is key to developing more energy-efficient materials for medicine, electronics, transportation, and other applications.

    Experiment meets theory

    Since the discovery of iron-based HTS in 2008 (more than 20 years after that of copper-based HTS), scientists have been trying to understand the behavior of these unique materials. Confusion arose immediately because high-temperature superconductivity in copper-based materials emerges from a strongly correlated insulating state, but in iron-based HTS, it always emerges from a metallic state that lacks direct signatures of correlations. This distinction suggested that strong correlations were not essential—or perhaps even relevant—to high-temperature superconductivity. However, advanced theory soon provided another explanation. Because Fe-based materials have multiple active Fe orbitals, intense electronic correlations could exist but remain hidden due to orbital selectivity in the Hund’s metal state, yet still generate high-temperature superconductivity.

    In this study, recently described in Nature Materials, the team—including Brian Andersen of Copenhagen University, Peter Hirschfeld of the University of Florida, and Paul Canfield of DOE’s Ames National Laboratory—used a scanning tunneling microscope to image the quasiparticle interference of electrons in FeSe samples synthesized and characterized at Ames National Lab. Quasiparticle interference refers to the wave patterns that result when electrons are scattered due to atomic-scale defects—such as impurity atoms or vacancies—in the crystal lattice.

    2
    The spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microscope used for this study, in three different views.

    Spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microcopy can be used to visualize these interference patterns, which are characteristic of the microscopic behavior of electrons. In this technique, a single-atom probe moves back and forth very close to the sample’s surface in extremely tiny steps (as small as two trillionths of a meter) while measuring the amount of electrical current that is flowing between the single atom on the probe tip and the material, under an applied voltage.

    Their analysis of the interference patterns in FeSe revealed that the electronic correlations are orbitally selective—they depend on which orbital each electron comes from. By measuring the strength of the electronic correlations (i.e., amplitude of the quasiparticle interference patterns), they determined that some orbitals show very weak correlation, whereas others show very strong correlation.

    The next question to investigate is whether the orbital-selective electronic correlations are related to superconductivity. If the correlations act as a “glue” that binds electrons together into the pairs required to carry superconducting current—as is thought to happen in the copper-oxide HTS—a single picture of high-temperature superconductivity may emerge.

    Experimental studies were carried out by the former Center for Emergent Superconductivity, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center at Brookhaven, and the research was supported by DOE’s Office of Science, the Moore Foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Physics (EPiQS) Initiative, and a Lundbeckfond Fellowship.

    See the full article here .


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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 11:58 am on February 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scanning tunneling microscopy,   

    From U Texas Dallas: “UT Dallas Team’s Microscopic Solution May Save Researchers Big Time” 

    U Texas Dallas

    Feb. 12, 2018

    A University of Texas at Dallas graduate student, his advisor and industry collaborators believe they have addressed a long-standing problem troubling scientists and engineers for more than 35 years: How to prevent the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope from crashing into the surface of a material during imaging or lithography.

    2
    IBM Scanning tunneling microscope

    Details of the group’s solution appeared in the January issue of the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is published by the American Institute of Physics.

    Scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs) operate in an ultra-high vacuum, bringing a fine-tipped probe with a single atom at its apex very close to the surface of a sample. When voltage is applied to the surface, electrons can jump or tunnel across the gap between the tip and sample.

    1
    Farid Tajaddodianfar

    “Think of it as a needle that is very sharp, atomically sharp,” said Farid Tajaddodianfar, a mechanical engineering graduate student in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “The microscope is like a robotic arm, able to reach atoms on the sample surface and manipulate them.”

    The problem is, sometimes the tungsten tip crashes into the sample. If it physically touches the sample surface, it may inadvertently rearrange the atoms or create a “crater,” which could damage the sample. Such a “tip crash” often forces operators to replace the tip many times, forfeiting valuable time.

    Dr. John Randall is an adjunct professor at UT Dallas and president of Zyvex Labs, a Richardson, Texas-based nanotechnology company specializing in developing tools and products that fabricate structures atom by atom. Zyvex reached out to Dr. Reza Moheimani, a professor of mechanical engineering, to help address STMs’ tip crash problem. Moheimani’s endowed chair was a gift from Zyvex founder James Von Ehr MS’81, who was honored as a distinguished UTD alumnus in 2004.

    “What they’re trying to do is help bring atomically precise manufacturing into reality,” said Randall, who co-authored the article with Tajaddodianfar, Moheimani and Zyvex Labs’ James Owen. “This is considered the future of nanotechnology, and it is extremely important work.”

    Randall said such precise manufacturing will lead to a host of innovations.

    “By building structures atom by atom, you’re able to create new, extraordinary materials,” said Randall, who is co-chair of the Jonsson School’s Industry Engagement Committee. “We can remove impurities and make materials stronger and more heat resistant. We can build quantum computers. It could radically lower costs and expand capabilities in medicine and other areas. For example, if we can better understand DNA at an atomic and molecular level, that will help us fine-tune and tailor health care according to patients’ needs. The possibilities are endless.”

    In addition, Moheimani, a control engineer and expert in nanotechnology, said scientists are attempting to build transistors and quantum computers from a single atom using this technology.

    “There’s an international race to build machines, devices and 3-D equipment from the atom up,” said Moheimani, the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology.

    ‘It’s a Big, Big Problem’

    Randall said Zyvex Labs has spent a lot of time and money trying to understand what happens to the tips when they crash.

    “It’s a big, big problem,” Randall said. “If you can’t protect the tip, you’re not going to build anything. You’re wasting your time.”

    Tajaddodianfar and Moheimani said the issue is the controller.

    “There’s a feedback controller in the STM that measures the current and moves the needle up and down,” Moheimani said. “You’re moving from one atom to another, across an uneven surface. It is not flat. Because of that, the distance between the sample and tip changes, as does the current between them. While the controller tries to move the tip up and down to maintain the current, it does not always respond well, nor does it regulate the tip correctly. The resulting movement of the tip is often unstable.”

    It’s the feedback controller that fails to protect the tip from crashing into the surface, Tajaddodianfar said.

    “When the electronic properties are variable across the sample surface, the tip is more prone to crash under conventional control systems,” he said. “It’s meant to be really, really sharp. But when the tip crashes into the sample, it breaks, curls backward and flattens.

    “Once the tip crashes into the surface, forget it. Everything changes.”

    The Solution

    According to Randall, Tajaddodianfar took logical steps for creating the solution.

    “The brilliance of Tajaddodianfar is that he looked at the problem and understood the physics of the tunneling between the tip and the surface, that there is a small electronic barrier that controls the rate of tunneling,” Randall said. “He figured out a way of measuring that local barrier height and adjusting the gain on the control system that demonstrably keeps the tip out of trouble. Without it, the tip just bumps along, crashing into the surface. Now, it adjusts to the control parameters on the fly.”

    Moheimani said the group hopes to change their trajectory when it comes to building new devices.

    “That’s the next thing for us. We set out to find the source of this problem, and we did that. And, we’ve come up with a solution. It’s like everything else in science: Time will tell how impactful our work will be,” Moheimani said. “But I think we have solved the big problem.”

    Randall said Tajaddodianfar’s algorithm has been integrated with its system’s software but is not yet available to customers. The research was made possible by funding from the Army Research Office and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Texas at Dallas is a Carnegie R1 classification (Doctoral Universities – Highest research activity) institution, located in a suburban setting 20 miles north of downtown Dallas. The University enrolls more than 27,600 students — 18,380 undergraduate and 9,250 graduate —and offers a broad array of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

    Established by Eugene McDermott, J. Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green, the founders of Texas Instruments, UT Dallas is a young institution driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of its founders and their commitment to academic excellence. In 1969, the public research institution joined The University of Texas System and became The University of Texas at Dallas.

    A high-energy, nimble, innovative institution, UT Dallas offers top-ranked science, engineering and business programs and has gained prominence for a breadth of educational paths from audiology to arts and technology. UT Dallas’ faculty includes a Nobel laureate, six members of the National Academies and more than 560 tenured and tenure-track professors.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:58 pm on October 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The spin property of Majoranas distinguishes them from other types of quasi-particles that emerge in materials", An elusive particle notable for behaving simultaneously like matter and antimatter, , , , , Scanning tunneling microscopy   

    From Research at Princeton Blog: “Spotting the spin of the Majorana fermion under the microscope” 

    Princeton University
    Research at Princeton Blog

    October 12, 2017
    Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

    1
    The figure shows a schematic of the experiment. A magnetized scanning tunneling microscope tip was used to probe the spin property of the quantum wave function of the Majorana fermion at the end of a chain of iron atoms on the surface of a superconductor made of lead. Image courtesy of Yazdani Lab, Princeton University.

    Researchers at Princeton University have detected a unique quantum property of an elusive particle notable for behaving simultaneously like matter and antimatter. The particle, known as the Majorana fermion, is prized by researchers for its potential to open the doors to new quantum computing possibilities.

    In the study published this week in the journal Science, the research team described how they enhanced an existing imaging technique, called scanning tunneling microscopy, to capture signals from the Majorana particle at both ends of an atomically thin iron wire stretched on the surface of a crystal of lead. Their method involved detecting a distinctive quantum property known as spin, which has been proposed for transmitting quantum information in circuits that contain the Majorana particle.

    “The spin property of Majoranas distinguishes them from other types of quasi-particles that emerge in materials,” said Ali Yazdani, Princeton’s Class of 1909 Professor of Physics. “The experimental detection of this property provides a unique signature of this exotic particle.”

    The finding builds on the team’s 2014 discovery, also published in Science, of the Majorana fermion in a single atom-wide chain of iron atoms atop a lead substrate. In that study, the scanning tunneling microscope was used to visualize Majoranas for the first time, but provided no other measurements of their properties.

    “Our aim has been to probe some of the specific quantum properties of Majoranas. Such experiments provide not only further confirmation of their existence in our chains, but open up possible ways of using them.” Yazdani said.

    First theorized in the late 1930s by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, the particle is fascinating because it acts as its own antiparticle. In the last few years, scientists have realized that they can engineer one-dimensional wires, such as the chains of atoms on the superconducting surface in the current study, to make Majorana fermions emerge in solids. In these wires, Majoranas occur as pairs at either end of the chains, provided the chains are long enough for the Majoranas to stay far enough apart that they do not annihilate each other. In a quantum computing system, information could be simultaneously stored at both ends of the wire, providing a robustness against outside disruptions to the inherently fragile quantum states.

    Previous experimental efforts to detect Majoranas have used the fact that it is both a particle and an antiparticle. The telltale signature is called a zero-bias peak in a quantum tunneling measurement. But studies have shown that such signals could also occur due to a pair of ordinary quasiparticles that can emerge in superconductors. Professor of Physics Andrei Bernevig and his team, who with Yazdani’s group proposed the atomic chain platform, developed the theory that showed that spin-polarized measurements made using a scanning tunneling microscope can distinguish between the presence of a pair of ordinary quasi-particles and a Majorana.

    Typically, scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) involves dragging a fine-tipped electrode over a structure, in this case the chain of iron atoms, and detecting its electronic properties, from which an image can be constructed. To perform spin-sensitive measurements, the researchers create electrodes that are magnetized in different orientations. These “spin-polarized” STM measurements revealed signatures that agree with the theoretical calculations by Bernevig and his team.

    “It turns out that, unlike in the case of a conventional quasi-particle, the spin of the Majorana cannot be screened out by the background. In this sense it is a litmus test for the presence of the Majorana state,” Bernevig said.

    The quantum spin property of Majorana may also make them more useful for applications in quantum information. For example, wires with Majoranas at either end can be used to transfer information between far away quantum bits that rely on the spin of electrons. Entanglement of the spins of electrons and Majoranas may be the next step in harnessing their properties for quantum information transfer.

    The STM studies were conducted by three co-first authors in the Yazdani group: scientist Sangjun Jeon, graduate student Yonglong Xie, and former postdoctoral research associate Jian Li (now a professor at Westlake University in Hangzhou, China). The research also included contributions from postdoctoral research associate Zhijun Wang in Bernevig’s group.

    This work has been supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the EPiQS initiative (grant GBMF4530), U.S. Office of Naval Research (grants ONR-N00014-14-1-0330, ONR-N00014-11-1-0635, and ONR- N00014-13-1-0661) , the National Science Foundation through the NSF-MRSEC program (grants DMR-142054 and DMR-1608848) and an EAGER Award (grant NOA -AWD1004957), the U.S. Army Research Office MURI program (grant W911NF-12-1-046), the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences, the Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund at Princeton.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:55 pm on June 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1T’-WTe2, , , , , , , Scanning tunneling microscopy, ,   

    From LBNL: “2-D Material’s Traits Could Send Electronics R&D Spinning in New Directions” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    June 26, 2017
    Glenn Roberts Jr
    geroberts@lbl.gov
    (510) 486-5582

    1
    This animated rendering shows the atomic structure of a 2-D material known as 1T’-WTe2 that was created and studied at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. (Credit: Berkeley Lab.)

    An international team of researchers, working at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley, fabricated an atomically thin material and measured its exotic and durable properties that make it a promising candidate for a budding branch of electronics known as “spintronics.”

    The material – known as 1T’-WTe2 – bridges two flourishing fields of research: that of so-called 2-D materials, which include monolayer materials such as graphene that behave in different ways than their thicker forms; and topological materials, in which electrons can zip around in predictable ways with next to no resistance and regardless of defects that would ordinarily impede their movement.

    At the edges of this material, the spin of electrons – a particle property that functions a bit like a compass needle pointing either north or south – and their momentum are closely tied and predictable.

    2
    A scanning tunneling microscopy image of a 2-D material created and studied at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (orange, background). In the upper right corner, the blue dots represent the layout of tungsten atoms and the red dots represent tellurium atoms. (Credit: Berkeley Lab.)

    This latest experimental evidence could elevate the material’s use as a test subject for next-gen applications, such as a new breed of electronic devices that manipulate its spin property to carry and store data more efficiently than present-day devices. These traits are fundamental to spintronics.

    The material is called a topological insulator because its interior surface does not conduct electricity, and its electrical conductivity (the flow of electrons) is restricted to its edges.

    “This material should be very useful for spintronics studies,” said Sung-Kwan Mo, a physicist and staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) who co-led the study, published today in Nature Physics.

    LBNL/ALS

    “We’re excited about the fact that we have found another family of materials where we can both explore the physics of 2-D topological insulators and do experiments that may lead to future applications,” said Zhi-Xun Shen, a professor in Physical Sciences at Stanford University and the Advisor for Science and Technology at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory who also co-led the research effort.

    “This general class of materials is known to be robust and to hold up well under various experimental conditions, and these qualities should allow the field to develop faster,” he added.

    The material was fabricated and studied at the ALS, an X-ray research facility known as a synchrotron. Shujie Tang, a visiting postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab and Stanford University, and a co-lead author in the study, was instrumental in growing 3-atom-thick crystalline samples of the material in a highly purified, vacuum-sealed compartment at the ALS, using a process known as molecular beam epitaxy.

    The high-purity samples were then studied at the ALS using a technique known as ARPES (or angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy), which provides a powerful probe of materials’ electron properties.

    3
    Beamline 10.0.1 at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source enables researchers to both create and study atomically thin materials. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab.)

    “After we refined the growth recipe, we measured it with ARPES. We immediately recognized the characteristic electronic structure of a 2-D topological insulator,” Tang said, based on theory and predictions. “We were the first ones to perform this type of measurement on this material.”

    But because the conducting part of this material, at its outermost edge, measured only a few nanometers thin – thousands of times thinner than the X-ray beam’s focus – it was difficult to positively identify all of the material’s electronic properties.

    So collaborators at UC Berkeley performed additional measurements at the atomic scale using a technique known as STM, or scanning tunneling microscopy. “STM measured its edge state directly, so that was a really key contribution,” Tang said.

    The research effort, which began in 2015, involved more than two dozen researchers in a variety of disciplines. The research team also benefited from computational work at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC).

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer

    LBL NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer

    Two-dimensional materials have unique electronic properties that are considered key to adapting them for spintronics applications, and there is a very active worldwide R&D effort focused on tailoring these materials for specific uses by selectively stacking different types.

    “Researchers are trying to sandwich them on top of each other to tweak the material as they wish – like Lego blocks,” Mo said. “Now that we have experimental proof of this material’s properties, we want to stack it up with other materials to see how these properties change.”

    A typical problem in creating such designer materials from atomically thin layers is that materials typically have nanoscale defects that can be difficult to eliminate and that can affect their performance. But because 1T’-WTe2 is a topological insulator, its electronic properties are by nature resilient.

    “At the nanoscale it may not be a perfect crystal,” Mo said, “but the beauty of topological materials is that even when you have less than perfect crystals, the edge states survive. The imperfections don’t break the key properties.”

    Going forward, researchers aim to develop larger samples of the material and to discover how to selectively tune and accentuate specific properties. Besides its topological properties, its “sister materials,” which have similar properties and were also studied by the research team, are known to be light-sensitive and have useful properties for solar cells and for optoelectronics, which control light for use in electronic devices.

    The ALS and NERSC are DOE Office of Science User Facilities. Researchers from Stanford University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Tech University, POSTECH in Korea, and Pusan National University in Korea also participated in this study. This work was supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation of China, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, and the Basic Science Research Program in Korea.

    See the full article here .

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