Electrical Control Over Designer Quantum Materials

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Exploring the properties and behaviours of strongly interacting quantum particles is one of the frontiers of modern physics. Not only are there major open problems that await solutions, some of them since decades (think high-temperature superconductivity). Equally important, there are various regimes of quantum many-body physics that remain essentially inaccessible with current analytical and numerical tools. For these cases in particular, experimental platforms are sought after in which the interactions between particles can be both controlled and tuned, thus allowing the systematic exploration of wide parameter ranges. One such experimental platform are carefully engineered stacks of two-dimensional (2D) materials. Over the past couple of years, these ‘designer quantum materials’ have enabled unique studies of correlated electronic states. However, the strength of the interaction between the quantum states is typically fixed once a stack is fabricated. Now the group of Professor Ataç Imamoğlu at the Institute for Quantum Electronics reports a way around this limitation. Writing in Science, they introduce a versatile method that enables tuning of the interaction strength in 2D heterostructures by applying electrical fields [1]. Strength in a twist Two-dimensional materials have been in the spotlight of solid-state research ever since the first successful isolation and characterization of graphene — single layers of carbon atoms — in 2004. The field expanded at breath-taking speed ever since, but received a notable boost three years ago, when it was shown that two graphene layers arranged at a small angle relative to one another can host a broad range of intriguing phenomena dominated by electronic interactions.

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