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article imageAdvancing flexible electronics through accurate measurements

By Tim Sandle     Feb 19, 2017 in Technology
Coventry - By accurately measuring a range of so-called 'wonder materials', British scientists have taken a step-towards the development of a new generation of flexible electronics.
By gathering useful data about the types of materials that are strong candidates for flexible wearable devices, materials scientists have paved the way for gadgets become flexible, highly efficient and much smaller. This breakthrough has come from the University of Warwick's physics department.
The new method allows for the measurement of the electronic structures of stacks of two-dimensional materials. These materials are flat, atomically thin, highly conductive, and extremely strong materials, and they are promising materials for the development of flexible electronics. Flexible electronics is concerned with using the components normally used for rigid printed circuit boards (as with conventional devices) onto materials that allow the desired shape to form or which flex during use. Flexible electronics opens a door to foldaway smartphone displays, solar cells on a roll of plastic and advanced medical devices.
The new measurement technique assesses the electronic properties of each layer of a material held in a stack. This allows physicists to establish the optimal structure for the fastest, most efficient transfer of electrical energy. The focus of the research has been with materials known as heterostructures (these are multiple stacked layers of two-dimensional materials). These structures can theoretically create highly efficient optoelectronic devices (systems that source, detect and control light) that possess an ultrafast electrical charge. By making precise measurements it should be possible to produce materials for use in nano-circuits. These tiny-scale circuits should open the door to more efficient flexible devices.
In a research note, lead scientist Dr Neil Wilson enthuses about his breakthrough research: "It is extremely exciting to be able to see, for the first time, how interactions between atomically thin layers change their electronic structure."
The research is published in the journal Science Advances, under the title "Determination of band offsets, hybridization, and exciton binding in 2D semiconductor heterostructures."
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