Transmitting Data With 2-D Materials and Light
While much has been made that graphene has new competition from the emergence of other two-dimensional materials, such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and boron nitride
, it is probably more likely the case that all the 2D materials will play some complimentary role with each other. This makes sense given their fundamental properties: graphene is a conductor; MoS2 is a semiconductor; and boron nitride is an insulator.
However, sometimes their differences set them apart rather than compliment one another. Such is the case with somewhat serendipitous research at the University of California San Diego (UCSD)
in which they discovered that when light hits the surface of boron nitride it creates waves that can be sustained long enough to communicate information.
The research started off by aiming a laser light at the tip of atomic force microscope as it scanned across the surface of graphene. The researcher observed that the laser would create a ripple effect across the surface of the graphene but because it graphene is so highly conductive the waves would soon dissipate. However, when they tried the same technique on the insulator boron nitride the same ripples were produced but they could be sustained and even tuned to specific frequencies and amplitudes by varying the layers of the material.
"Because these materials are insulators, there is no electronic dissipation. So these waves travel further," aid Dimitri Basov, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, who led the project, in a press release. "We didn't expect them to be long-lived, but we are pleased that they are. It's becoming kind of practical."
The researchers believe that the applications for this phenomenon could range from transmission of information in computer chips to better management of heat flow in nanoscale devices, or even the creation higher resolution images than is possible with light.