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Organic-inorganic material could open quantum doors

DTU

10 Sep 2018 

An Assistant Professor at the Technical Unitversity of Denmark (DTU) has described his team’s recent synthesis of an organic-inorganic hybrid material as ‘the door to a new world of more advanced 2D materials opening up’.
Simon Frost

2D materials have a thickness of just one molecule, which makes them especially promising for use in quantum computing, as electrons are restricted by movement across two dimensions, as the wavelength of the electron is longer than the thickness of the material.

The most well known of these new materials is graphene – a single layer or carbon – which since its Nobel prize-winning synthesis in 2004 has been posited as a game-changer in applications ranging from tissue engineering and water filtration to energy generation and organic electronics.

Now, an international team at DTU led by Assistant Professor Kasper Steen Pedersen has synthesised a novel nanomaterial with electrical and magnetic properties that the researchers claim make it suitable for future quantum computers and other applications in electronics.

Since graphene’s discovery, hundreds of new 2D materials have been synthesised, but the new material, published today in Nature Chemistry, is based on a different concept. While the other 2D material candidates are all inorganic, chromium-chloride-pyrazine (chemical formula CrCl2(pyrazine)2) is an organic-inorganic hybrid material.

‘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 atoms. Our approach allows designing properties much more accurately than known in other 2D materials,’ Professor Pedersen explained.

DTU
The use of redox-active organic molecules and magnetic metal ions as molecular building blocks for materials represents a new strategy towards novel types of 2D materials exhibiting both high electronic conductivity and magnetic order. Credit: Kasper Steen Pedersen and We Love People

The magnetic properties in Chromium-chloride-pyrazine can also be accurately designed – this is especially relevant in relation to ‘spintronics’, which harnesses the quantum mechanical property of an electron’s spin.

‘While in normal electronics, only the charge of the electrons is utilised, their spin – which is a quantum mechanical property – is also 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,’ Professor Pedersen said.

Chromium-chloride-pyrazine may also be of interest in future superconductors, catalysts, batteries, and fuel cells.

The material remains some distance from commercialisation, as Professor Pederson explained, ‘This is still fundamental research. Since we are suggesting a material synthesised 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.’

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