Results from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Precisely Align Quantum Lattices
In a new Nature Communications paper, scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a method to fine-tune the alignment of special lattices known as supermoiré lattices. With their new procedure, dubbed the “Golden Rule of Three,” the researchers believe their results could pave the way to advancing quantum matter.
Understanding supermoiré lattices
At its core, a supermoiré lattice is a fascinating result of combining two sets of periodic patterns. Think of it as overlaying two grids, each with its unique arrangement of atoms or electrons, much like the patterns on a woven fabric or the overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. When these two patterns are slightly misaligned or have different characteristics, they create mesmerizing interference patterns known as moiré patterns. “The moiré pattern in graphene and [hexagonal boron nitride (hBN)] hBN has been used to create new structures with exotic properties, such as topological currents and Hofstadter butterfly states,” explained a recent press release.
Supermoiré lattices offer a way to harness and control these quantum properties in materials. Researchers can induce exotic quantum phases in the material by carefully engineering the alignment and properties of the overlaid patterns. This control allows scientists to explore uncharted territories of quantum matter and design materials with unprecedented properties.
The NUS Golden Rule of Three
Developing a method to align these lattices was essential for the NUS researchers in advancing quantum matter science. Professor Ariando of NUS’s physics department led the scientists in aligning lattices of graphene and hBN in a precise pattern to create the supermoiré lattice. Because of the various challenges to aligning these lattices, including differences in molecular angles, symmetry, and thickness, problems in creating supermoiré lattice make the process expensive and time-consuming.
Dr. Junxiong Hu, the research paper’s lead author, said in a recent press release, “Our technique helps to solve a real-life problem. Many researchers have told me that it usually takes almost one week to make a sample. With our technique, they can not only greatly shorten the fabrication time but also greatly improve the accuracy of the sample.”
Prof. Ariando further added that, “We have established three golden rules for our technique which can help many researchers in the two-dimensional materials community. Many scientists working in other strongly correlated systems, like magic-angle twisting bilayer graphene or ABC-stacking multilayer graphene, are also expected to benefit from our work. Through this technical improvement, I hope that it will accelerate the development of the next generation of moiré quantum matter.”
Supermoiré lattices are pushing the boundaries of our understanding of quantum matter. Their ability to control and manipulate quantum properties opens doors to unimaginable advancements in technology and materials science. As scientists like those at NUS delve deeper into this fascinating realm, the possibilities for groundbreaking discoveries are limited only by the imagination.
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, New Scientist, Discover Magazine, Ars Technica, and more.