New Nanotech at UA

University of Arkansas physicists in Fayetteville have engineered new properties within an ultra-thin material, opening the door to the creation of new types of nanomaterial for use in electronics and other devices.

According to a release, the new properties, or “phases,” were discovered by Jak Chakhalian, a professor of physics, and Jian Liu, a former doctoral student of Chakhalian’s.

The work was done at an atomic level on film that measures several angstroms per layer, a unit equal to 100 millionths of a centimeter.

Films such as this are often used to form a “reactive coating” that protects devices like eyeglasses or touchpads.

The research involved varying the distance between atoms in a crystal lattice substrate.

Chakhalian said shrinking to the atomic scale means more applications for the film.

“The naive expectation in the 1990s was that anything we shrunk down to nano size would act profoundly differently,” Chakhalian said, “and we did develop many remarkable tools that were capable of shrinking them down to hundreds and, recently, tens of nanometers. But it turned out we didn’t go far enough. As we know now, we really need to go one magnitude lower: the atomic scale. … In order to find out the fundamental reason for how material properties emerge, for example why a material conducts electricity or why it is magnetic, I need to go smaller and smaller.”