Kin Fai Mak’s research will develop an experimental approach to control the lattice structure of two-dimensional (2D) materials by electric fields. The idea stems from the recently discovered moiré materials. These materials form when two sheets of crystals are overlaid with small orientation or lattice mismatch. The resultant interference of the atomic lattice structures produces periodic arrays of “big atoms” that can stabilize electron crystals with electrically switchable lattice symmetries. Using the periodic electrostatic potential from these electron crystals, the research team will imprint artificial lattices onto arbitrary 2D materials via Coulomb forces. They aim to realize and control new electronic states of matter that do not exist in the original 2D materials.
The lattice structure of solids plays a defining role in the electronic properties of materials. Currently, there is no experimental approach that can vary this important attribute of solids at will without changing their chemistry. The realization of electrically tunable lattice structure in solids will allow Dr. Mak’s team to create nearly any states of matter in a single material.
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Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative
Cornell University, Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics