Two-dimensional (2-D) semiconductors are promising for quantum computing and future electronics. Now, researchers can convert metallic gold into semiconductor and customize the material atom-by-atom on boron nitride nanotubes.



Gold is a conductive material already widely used as interconnects in . As electronics have gotten smaller and more powerful, the semiconducting materials involved have also shrunk. However, computers have gotten about as small as they can with existing designs—to break the barrier, researchers dive into the physics underlying computing and the unusual behaviors of in .


Researchers can convert gold into semiconducting quantum dots made of a single layer of atoms. Their energy gap, or bandgap, is formed by the quantum confinement—a quantum effect when materials behave like atoms as their sizes get so small approaching the molecular scale. These 2-D gold quantum dots can be used for electronics with a bandgap that is tunable atom-by-atom.


Making the dots with monolayer of atoms is tricky and the bigger challenge is customizing their properties. When laid out on boron nitride , researchers from Michigan Technological University have found that they can get gold quantum dots to do the near-impossible. The mechanisms behind getting gold dots to clump atom-by-atom is the focus of their new paper, recently published in ACS Nano.

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