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Scientists from The University of Manchester have developed a novel yet simple method for producing vertical stacks of alternating superconductor and insulator layers of tantalum disulphide (TaS2). The findings, from a team led by Professor Rahul Nair, could speed up the process of manufacturing such devices—so-called van der Waals heterostructures—with application in high-mobility transistors, photovoltaics and optoelectronics.

Van der Waals heterostructures are much sought after since they display many unique and useful properties not found in naturally occurring materials. In most cases, they are prepared by manually stacking one layer over the other in a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

Published last week in the journal Nano Letters, the study—led by researchers based at the National Graphene Institute (NGI)—describes synthesis of a bulk van der Waals consisting of alternating atomic layers of 1T and 1H TaS2. 1T and 1H TaS2 are different polymorphs (materials with the same but with a variation in atomic arrangement) of TaS2 with completely different properties—the former insulating, the latter superconducting at low temperatures.

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