Future electronics and quantum computers may one day use a synthesized nanomaterial that has magnetic and electrical properties. Kasper Steen Pedersen, assistant professor of chemistry at Technical University of Denmark (DTU), led the international group of researchers.
The layered substance is known as chromium-chloride-pyrazine. It serves as a precursor to 2D materials, which are only a few molecules thick and exhibit different properties compared to their 3D counterparts. According to the researchers, this is because electrons in 2D materials move horizontally (only if the electrons’ wavelengths are longer than the 2D layer’s thickness), but move in any direction in 3D materials.
In the 2D material arena, graphene is widely popular. However, the DTU material stands out thanks to its organic/inorganic hybrid properties.
“The material marks a new type of chemistry, in which we are able to replace various building blocks in the material and thereby modify its physical and chemical properties. This cannot be done in graphene. For example, one can’t choose to replace half the carbon atoms in graphene with another kind of atom. Our approach allows designing properties much more accurately than known in other 2D materials,” says Pedersen.
The increased design accuracy may help in the field of spintronic, which studies the spin in addition to the charge of electrons.
“While in normal electronics, only the charge of the electrons is utilized, But also electron spin—which is a quantum mechanical property—is used in spintronics. This is highly interesting for quantum computing applications. Therefore, development of nano-scale materials which are both conducting and magnetic is most relevant,” explains Pedersen.
The novel material can potentially reach past quantum electronics into a variety of other fields including next-gen batteries, fuel cells, and superconductors. However, the researchers note that companies are holding off on jumping on the chromium-chloride-pyrazine production train.
“…This is still fundamental research. Since we are suggesting a material synthesized from an entirely novel approach, a number of questions remain unanswered. For instance, we are not yet able to determine the degree of stability of the material in various applications. However, even if chromium-chloride-pyrazine should for some reason prove unfit for the various possible applications, the new principles behind its synthesis will still be relevant. This is the door to a new world of more advanced 2D materials opening up,” says Pedersen.
The full details are available in the article, “Formation of the layered conductive magnet CrCl2(pyrazine)2 through redox-active coordination chemistry,” published in Nature Chemistry