Controlling and Imaging Electron Motions in Atomic-Scale Sandwiches
A new instrument allows the first imaging of the movement of electrons in artificial materials
Modern electronics relies critically on the ability to control electrons near the interfaces between materials such as silicon. By creating interfaces between more complex materials, it may become possible to realize more exotic magnetic and electronic properties which could lead to future-generation devices and electronics.
A team of researchers at Cornell University have developed a new experimental tool which can not only create atomically abrupt interfaces between different complex materials, but also simultaneously measure the motion of electrons trapped at these interfaces. This ability is key because the motion and interaction of the electrons at these complex interfaces cannot easily be predicted using theoretical tools. In particular, they have discovered that as the "slices" in these "atomic sandwiches" get thicker and thicker, the effects of interactions between electrons becomes magnified, ultimately resulting in an insulating state.
The development of this new tool and technique will be an important step towards the rational design of new "atomic sandwiches" with tailored electronic and magnetic properties for future applications.