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Strain Improves Performance of Atomically Thin Semiconductor Material


University of Connecticut researchers Michael Pettes, left, and Wei Wu check a specially engineered device they created to exert strain on a semiconductor material only six atoms thick.

Researchers in the University of Connecticut Institute of Materials Science significantly improved the performance of an atomically thin semiconductor material by stretching it.

Credit: Peter Morenus/UConn

In a development that could help engineers design the next generation of flexible electronics, nano devices, and optical sensors, researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) Institute of Materials Science significantly enhanced the performance of an atomically thin semiconductor material by stretching it.

When subjected to strain, a six-atom-thick bilayer of tungsten diselenide showed an unprecedented 100-fold increase in photoluminescence, says UConn's Michael Pettes.

To measure the influence of strain, Pettes and researcher Wei Wu encapsulated the tungsten diselenide in acrylic glass and heated it in an argon gas chamber. This thermal processing increased the material's adhesion to a polymer substrate, enabling a near-perfect transfer of applied strain. Then a customized bending device increased strain on the material, which changed electron flow and increased photoluminescence.

Working with computer modeling experts, the team showed the process could manipulate the band gap of atomically thin materials.

The work should enable computational scientists using artificial intelligence to design new materials with extremely strain-resistant or strain-sensitive structures, Pettes says.

From UConn Today
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