Experiments that could before only be performed in a handful of national high magnetic field laboratories can now be done at just about any research university
The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, with facilities in Florida and New Mexico, offers scientists access to enormous machines that create record-setting magnetic fields. The strong magnetic fields help researchers probe the fundamental structure of materials to better understand and manipulate their properties. Yet large-scale facilities like the MagLab are scarce, and scientists must compete with others for valuable time on the machines.
Now researchers from the United Kingdom, in collaboration with industry partners from Germany, have built a tabletop instrument that can perform measurements that were only previously possible at large national magnet labs. The measurements will help in the development of next generation electronic devices employing 2-D materials, said Ben Spencer, a post-doctoral research associate working in Darren Graham’s group at the University of Manchester’s Photon Science Institute, who helped develop the new instrument.
The researchers describe their work in a paper in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.
The lab’s mission, as set forth by the NSF, is: “To provide the highest magnetic fields and necessary services for scientific research conducted by users from a wide range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, biology and geology.”
The lab focuses on four objectives:
- Develop user facilities and services for magnet-related research, open to all qualified scientists and engineers
- Advance magnet technology in cooperation with industry
- Promote a multidisciplinary research environment and administer in-house research program that uses and advances the facilities
- Develop an educational outreach program
As scientists continue to hunt for a material that will make it possible to pack more transistors on a chip, new research from McGill University and Université de Montréal adds to evidence that black phosphorus could emerge as a strong candidate.
In a study published today in Nature Communications, the researchers report that when electrons move in a phosphorus transistor, they do so only in two dimensions. The finding suggests that black phosphorus could help engineers surmount one of the big challenges for future electronics: designing energy-efficient transistors.
“Transistors work more efficiently when they are thin, with electrons moving in only two dimensions,” says Thomas Szkopek, an associate professor in McGill’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and senior author of the new study. “Nothing gets thinner than a single layer of atoms.”
In 2004, physicists at the University of Manchester in the U.K. first isolated and explored the remarkable properties of graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of carbon. Since then scientists have rushed to investigate a range of other two-dimensional materials. One of those is black phosphorus, a form of phosphorus that is similar to graphite and can be separated easily into single atomic layers, known as phosphorene.