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Quantum Dot Solids: This Generation's Silicon Wafer?

By Cornell Chronicle

March 1, 2016

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Quantum dot solids, or crystals made out of crystals, have the potential to usher in a new era in electronics.

A group of researchers from Cornell University has fashioned two-dimensional superstructures out of single-crystal building blocks.

Through directed assembly and attachment processes, the lead selenide quantum dots are synthesized into larger crystals, then fused together to form atomically coherent square superlattices. The difference between these and previous crystalline structures is the atomic coherence of each 5-nanometer crystal. The researchers note they are connected directly to each other, and not by a substance between each crystal.

"As far as level of perfection, in terms of making the building blocks and connecting them into these superstructures, that is probably as far as you can push it," says Cornell professor Tobias Hanrath, who led the development team along with graduate student Kevin Whitham.

Hanrath says the superstructures have the potential to offer better electrical properties than existing semiconductor quantum dots. He notes they could be used in solar cells and other electronic devices.

Whitham says more work is needed before the technology is ready for commercial use. "I see this paper as sort of a challenge for other researchers to take this to another level," he says.

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