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Wits Researchers Find Techniques to Improve Carbon Superlattices For Quantum Electronic Devices

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Structure of a carbon super-lattice.

Exploiting the quantum properties of superlattices holds the promise of developing new technologies.

Credit: University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

The quantum properties of carbon-based superlattices could lead to a fundamental shift in the design and development of electronics, according to researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Nanoscale Transport Physics Laboratory.

Superlattices are composed of alternating layers thin enough to be governed by quantum mechanics. The researchers created a theoretical framework that can calculate the electronic transport properties in disordered carbon superlattices, which can be used to design quantum devices for specific applications.

Superlattices currently are used as high-frequency oscillators and amplifiers and are beginning to be utilized in optoelectronics as detectors and emitters in the terahertz range. The lack of terahertz emitters and detectors has created a gap in that region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which superlattice electronics are able to fill.

Unlike conventional semiconductors, the properties of superlattices enable devices to operate in a much wider range of frequencies than their conventional counterparts. Carbon devices also are extremely strong, are operable at high voltages, and can be developed in laboratories without sophisticated nanofabrication equipment.

The Wits researchers say the model could find application in biology, space technology, and science infrastructure.

From University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
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