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Researchers Discover That Electrons Play a Surprising Role in Heat Transfer Between Layers of Semiconductors

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Artist's depiction of electron transfer driven by an ultrashort laser pulse across an interface between two atomically-thin materials.

The researchers conducted extensive calculations of the electronic structure of layered 2D WSe2/WS2, as well as the behavior of lattice vibrations within the layers.

Credit: Gregory M. Stewart

Researchers are exploring the potential applications of two-dimensional (2D) materials in transistors and optoelectronics, as semiconductor devices continue to become smaller. Controlling the flow of electricity and heat in these materials is essential for their functionality, but a deeper understanding of these behaviors at the atomic scale is required first.

Researchers have now found that electrons play a surprising role in the energy transfer between layers of 2D semiconductor materials WSe2 and WS2. Despite the layers not being tightly bonded, electrons bridge the gap and facilitate rapid heat transfer.

"Our work shows that we need to go beyond the analogy of Lego blocks to understand stacks of disparate 2D materials, even though the layers aren't strongly bonded to one another," said Archana Raja, a scientist at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), who led the study.

"The seemingly distinct layers, in fact, communicate through shared electronic pathways, allowing us to access and eventually design properties that are greater than the sum of the parts."

From Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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