Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Electronic band structure


Tuning the photonic band gap (PBG) to the electronic band gap (EBG) of Au/TiO2 catalysts resulted in considerable enhancement of the photocatalytic water splitting to hydrogen under direct sunlight. Au/TiO2 (PBG-357 nm) photocatalyst exhibited superior photocatalytic performance under both UV and sunlight compared to the Au/TiO2 (PBG-585 nm) photocatalyst and both are higher than Au/TiO2 without the 3 dimensionally ordered macro-porous structure materials. The very high photocatalytic activity is attributed to suppression of a fraction of electron-hole recombination route due to the co-incidence of the PBG with the EBG of TiO2 These materials that maintain their activity with very small amount of sacrificial agents (down to 0.5 vol.% of ethanol) are poised to find direct applications because of their high activity, low cost of the process, simplicity and stability.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Semiconductor, Photoelectrochemical cell, Solar cell, Photocatalysis, Electronic band structure


Ultralow trap densities, exceptional optical and electronic properties have been reported for lead halide perovskites single crystals; however, ambiguities in basic properties, such as the band gap, and the electronic defect densities in the bulk and at the surface prevail. Here, we synthesize single crystals of methylammonium lead bromide (CH3NH3PbBr3), characterise the optical absorption and photoluminescence and show that the optical properties of single crystals are almost identical to those of polycrystalline thin films. We observe significantly longer lifetimes and show that carrier diffusion plays a substantial role in the photoluminescence decay. Contrary to many reports, we determine that the trap density in CH3NH3PbBr3 perovskite single crystals is 10(15) cm(-3), only one order of magnitude lower than in the thin films. Our enhanced understanding of optical properties and recombination processes elucidates ambiguities in earlier reports, and highlights the discrepancies in the estimation of trap densities from electronic and optical methods.Metal halide perovskites for optoelectronic devices have been extensively studied in two forms: single-crystals or polycrystalline thin films. Using spectroscopic approaches, Wenger et al. show that polycrystalline thin films possess similar optoelectronic properties to single crystals.

Concepts: Photon, Density, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Photodiode, Electronic band structure, Bulk density, Photonics


The success of silicon as a dominant semiconductor technology has been enabled by its moderate band gap (1.1 eV), permitting low-voltage operation at reduced leakage current, and the existence of SiO2 as a high-quality “native” insulator. In contrast, other mainstream semiconductors lack stable oxides and must rely on deposited insulators, presenting numerous compatibility challenges. We demonstrate that layered two-dimensional (2D) semiconductors HfSe2 and ZrSe2 have band gaps of 0.9 to 1.2 eV (bulk to monolayer) and technologically desirable “high-κ” native dielectrics HfO2 and ZrO2, respectively. We use spectroscopic and computational studies to elucidate their electronic band structure and then fabricate air-stable transistors down to three-layer thickness with careful processing and dielectric encapsulation. Electronic measurements reveal promising performance (on/off ratio > 10(6); on current, ~30 μA/μm), with native oxides reducing the effects of interfacial traps. These are the first 2D materials to demonstrate technologically relevant properties of silicon, in addition to unique compatibility with high-κ dielectrics, and scaling benefits from their atomically thin nature.

Concepts: Electron, Semiconductor, Silicon, Germanium, Electronic band structure, Band gap, Dielectric, Valence band


We report the fluorination of electrically insulating hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) and the subsequent modification of its electronic band structure to a wide bandgap semiconductor via introduction of defect levels. The electrophilic nature of fluorine causes changes in the charge distribution around neighboring nitrogen atoms in h-BN, leading to room temperature weak ferromagnetism. The observations are further supported by theoretical calculations considering various possible configurations of fluorinated h-BN structure and their energy states. This unconventional magnetic semiconductor material could spur studies of stable two-dimensional magnetic semiconductors. Although the high thermal and chemical stability of h-BN have found a variety of uses, this chemical functionalization approach expands its functionality to electronic and magnetic devices.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Semiconductor, Electronic band structure, Band gap, Semiconductors, Valence band, Boron nitride


In a continuous search for the energy-efficient electronic switches, a great attention is focused on tunnel field-effect transistors (TFETs) demonstrating an abrupt dependence of the source-drain current on the gate voltage. Among all TFETs, those based on one-dimensional (1D) semiconductors exhibit the steepest current switching due to the singular density of states near the band edges, though the current in 1D structures is pretty low. In this paper, we propose a TFET based on 2D graphene bilayer which demonstrates a record steep subthreshold slope enabled by van Hove singularities in the density of states near the edges of conduction and valence bands. Our simulations show the accessibility of 3.5 × 10(4) ON/OFF current ratio with 150 mV gate voltage swing, and a maximum subthreshold slope of (20 μV/dec)(-1) just above the threshold. The high ON-state current of 0.8 mA/μm is enabled by a narrow (~0.3 eV) extrinsic band gap, while the smallness of the leakage current is due to an all-electrical doping of the source and drain contacts which suppresses the band tailing and trap-assisted tunneling.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Semiconductor, Transistor, Electronic band structure, Band gap, Semiconductors, Valence band, The Band


Self-assembly of biological molecules on solid materials is central to the “bottom-up” approach to directly integrate biology with electronics. Inspired by biology, exquisite biomolecular nanoarchitectures have been formed on solid surfaces. We demonstrate that a combinatorially-selected dodecapeptide and its variants self-assemble into peptide nanowires on two-dimensional nanosheets, single-layer graphene and MoS2. The abrupt boundaries of nanowires create electronic junctions via spatial biomolecular doping of graphene and manifest themselves as a self-assembled electronic network. Furthermore, designed peptides form nanowires on single-layer MoS2 modifying both its electric conductivity and photoluminescence. The biomolecular doping of nanosheets defined by peptide nanostructures may represent the crucial first step in integrating biology with nano-electronics towards realizing fully self-assembled bionanoelectronic devices.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Organism, Atom, Nanomaterials, Electronics, Electronic band structure, Biomolecule


Among the large number of promising two-dimensional (2D) atomic layer crystals, true metallic layers are rare. Using combined theoretical and experimental approaches, we report on the stability and successful exfoliation of atomically thin “gallenene” sheets on a silicon substrate, which has two distinct atomic arrangements along crystallographic twin directions of the parent α-gallium. With a weak interface between solid and molten phases of gallium, a solid-melt interface exfoliation technique is developed to extract these layers. Phonon dispersion calculations show that gallenene can be stabilized with bulk gallium lattice parameters. The electronic band structure of gallenene shows a combination of partially filled Dirac cone and the nonlinear dispersive band near the Fermi level, suggesting that gallenene should behave as a metallic layer. Furthermore, it is observed that the strong interaction of gallenene with other 2D semiconductors induces semiconducting to metallic phase transitions in the latter, paving the way for using gallenene as promising metallic contacts in 2D devices.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Semiconductor, Solid, Thin film, Electronic band structure, Band gap


The newly discovered two-dimensional materials can be used to form atomically thin and sharp van der Waals heterostructures with nearly perfect interface qualities, which can transform the science and technology of semiconductor heterostructures. Owing to the weak van der Waals interlayer coupling, the electronic states of participating materials remain largely unchanged. Hence, emergent properties of these structures rely on two key elements: electron transfer across the interface and interlayer coupling. Here we show, using graphene-tungsten disulfide heterostructures as an example, evidence of ultrafast and highly efficient interlayer electron transfer and strong interlayer coupling and control. We find that photocarriers injected in tungsten disulfide transfer to graphene in 1 ps and with near-unity efficiency. We also demonstrate that optical properties of tungsten disulfide can be effectively tuned by carriers in graphene. These findings illustrate basic processes required for using van der Waals heterostructures in electronics and photonics.

Concepts: Electron, Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Chemical element, Carbon, Electronic band structure, Weak interaction, Heterojunction


Commonly, materials are classified as either electrical conductors or insulators. The theoretical discovery of topological insulators has fundamentally challenged this dichotomy. In a topological insulator, the spin-orbit interaction generates a non-trivial topology of the electronic band structure dictating that its bulk is perfectly insulating, whereas its surface is fully conducting. The first topological insulator candidate material put forward-graphene-is of limited practical use because its weak spin-orbit interactions produce a bandgap of ~ 0.01 K. Recent reexaminations of Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3, however, have firmly categorized these materials as strong three-dimensional topological insulators. We have synthesized the first bulk material belonging to an entirely different, weak, topological class, built from stacks of two-dimensional topological insulators: Bi14Rh3I9. Its Bi-Rh sheets are graphene analogues, but with a honeycomb net composed of RhBi8 cubes rather than carbon atoms. The strong bismuth-related spin-orbit interaction renders each graphene-like layer a topological insulator with a 2,400 K bandgap.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Carbon, Semiconductor, Graphite, Manifold, Electronic band structure, Band gap, Insulator


Memory cells are an important building block of digital electronics. We combine here the unique electronic properties of semiconducting monolayer MoS2 with the high conductivity of graphene to build a 2D heterostructure capable of information storage. MoS2 acts as a channel in an intimate contact with graphene electrodes in a field-effect transistor geometry. Our prototypical all-2D transistor is further integrated with a multilayer graphene charge trapping layer into a device that can be operated as a nonvolatile memory cell. Because of its band gap and 2D nature, monolayer MoS2 is highly sensitive to the presence of charges in the charge trapping layer, resulting in a factor of 10(4) difference between memory program and erase states. The two-dimensional nature of both the contact and the channel can be harnessed for the fabrication of flexible nanoelectronic devices with large-scale integration.

Concepts: Semiconductor, Transistor, Computer, Computer storage, Electronics, Electronic band structure, Non-volatile memory, Computer data storage