Chicago Quantum Exchange Paving Way for Quantum Materials

Creating and observing current vortices in 2D materials

Quantum researchers at the University of Chicago have developed a new method to measure how photocurrents flow in a 2D material — a result that could have implications for developing quantum sensors and next-generation electronics.

By using quantum sensors to visualize the magnetic field in extremely thin molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) — a material just three atoms thick — researchers in David Awschalom’s group at the University of Chicago discovered just how photocurrents (electric currents induced by light) flowed in the material — in this case, surprisingly, in a vortex around the laser. This ultra-sensitive method of measuring such currents in a two-dimensional material, which is a substance with a thickness of a few nanometers or less, will help researchers better understand the material in the hopes of eventually using it to create flexible electronics and solar cells. The results were published January 6 in the journal Physical Review X.

“The ability to observe electronic behavior that is invisible to traditional measurements opens new avenues for scientific study, and ultimately helps us design efficient quantum technologies,” said principal investigator David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “This sensitive measurement technique allows us to explore phenomena at the atomic scale and develop new devices for quantum sensing and communication.”

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