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Interactions between matter and light in microcavities made of mirrors are fundamentally important for many modern technologies, including lasers. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, US, have now gained tighter control of these interactions by exploiting a nonlinear effect that occurs in a new kind of hybrid semiconductor made from bilayers of two-dimensional materials. These semiconducting sheets form an egg-carton-like array in which the “pockets” are quantum dots that can be controlled using light, and they could be used to make ultralow-energy switches.

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