A research team at the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (WPI-MANA) has shed light on how electrical conduction in oxide nanosheets can be markedly affected by small changes in their atomic arrangement.
The physical properties of a material are dictated by the arrangement of its atoms. This holds true not only for classical three-dimensional crystals but also for two-dimensional structures such as atomically thin nanosheets that are quickly becoming the cornerstone of many next-generation technologies.
However, the detailed atomic arrangement of certain nanosheets has not been fully elucidated, which limits experts’ understanding of the origin of their desirable properties. This problem is also encountered when investigating ruthenate nanosheets, conductive oxides with promising applications in electronics and energy storage.
The mystery underlying the conduction mechanisms in ruthenate nanosheets motivated a team of researchers at WPI-MANA, led by Dr. Satoshi Tominaka, to further investigate their atomic structure. In a recent study, they analyzed how the possible structural symmetries in ruthenate nanosheets altered their conducting properties.
The researchers employed a pair distribution function (PDF), which described the probability of finding two atoms at a certain distance apart inside a material. Using PDF, they found that ruthenate nanosheets with the same atomic composition can adopt two different atomic arrangements, leading to differences in their symmetry. “Although the structural difference was not large, symmetry changes resulted in remarkably different properties, with ruthenate nanosheets behaving either as a graphene-like semimetal or a semiconductor as confirmed by our calculations,” explains Dr. Tominaka. “This highlights the importance of symmetry analysis, even in low-dimensional materials.”
Overall, this study paves the way to a better understanding of oxide nanosheets, which could be a game changer in the development of future electronic and electrochemical devices.
Research Highlights Vol. 82
MANA Research Highlights
Source: International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (WPI-MANA), National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)