Researchers at the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat, along with additional collaborators, have developed a graphene-based protective film that shields quantum semiconductor layers just one atom thick from environmental influences without compromising their quantum properties. This could advance the use of these delicate atomic layers in ultrathin electronic components.
A few years ago, scientists from the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat discovered that topological quantum materials such as indenene hold great promise for ultrafast, energy-efficient electronics. These extremely thin quantum semiconductors are composed of a single atom layer – in indenene’s case, indium atoms – and act as topological insulators, conducting electricity virtually without resistance along their edges. Experimental physicist Professor Ralph Claessen explained that producing such a single atomic layer requires sophisticated vacuum equipment and a specific substrate material. To utilize this two-dimensional material in electronic components, it would need to be removed from the vacuum environment. However, exposure to air, even briefly, leads to oxidation, destroying its revolutionary properties and rendering it useless.