Scientists created new class of 2D artificial materials

International team verifies 53-year-old theory on ferroelectric metals; findings could spawn a new generation of multi-functional devices and applications.

This image shows the positions of atoms in a ferroelectric-like metal that contains barium titanate, strontium titanate and lanthanum titanate.
This image shows the positions of atoms in a ferroelectric-like metal that contains barium titanate, strontium titanate and lanthanum titanate.

According to a theory, ferroelectric metals could conduct electricity despite not existing in nature. For quite a long time, researchers figured it is difficult to demonstrate the hypothesis by Philip W. Anderson, who shared the 1977 Nobel Prize in material science. It resembled attempting to blend fire and water, yet a Rutgers-drove international team of researchers has confirmed the hypothesis.

Scientists at the Rutgers University now have demonstrated a new class of two-dimensional artificial materials with ferroelectric-like properties at room temperature that doesn’t exist in nature yet can conduct electricity. It’s an important link between a theory and an experiment.

This is like a breakthrough in the technology. Usually. ferroelectric materials are utilized as a part of the hardware, for example, PDA and different radio wires, computer storage, medical equipment, high precision motors, ultra-sensitive sensors and sonar equipment. None of their materials conducts power.

Jak Chakhalian, a team leader of the study said, “Ferroelectrics are a very important class of materials technologically. They move, shrink and expand when electricity is applied and that allows you to move things with exquisite precision. Moreover, every modern cell phone has tens of components with properties similar to ferroelectric material.”

In the same way as other physicists, Chakhalian relishes a test and he couldn’t discover a law of physics that suggests ferroelectric metals couldn’t be made. So his group, including study lead creator Yanwei Cao, a previous doctoral understudy who is presently an educator at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, tapped Chakhalian’s best in class devices to make sheets of materials just a couple of molecules thick. It resembles making sandwiches

Chakhalian said, “When a material becomes ferroelectric, its atoms shift permanently and we wanted to add metallic properties to an artificial crystal that conducts electricity. So we took two very thin layers to create a two-dimensional metal at the interface and added a third layer with special properties to shift the atoms in that metallic layer, creating a ferroelectric-like metal. The new structure has several functionalities built-in, and this is a big win-win.”

Their findings are published online in Nature Communications.