Scientists from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a system of “designer electrons,” an advance that could result in the production of new devices and materials.
Researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to create a graphene structure — a one-atom-thick honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms — which was manually adjusted to mimic the positions that atoms would warp to if under the strain of magnetic fields 30 percent stronger than what exists on Earth.
Having been repositioned, electrons subsequently behaved as if they were under the effect of a magnetic field — even while none was present.
Researchers said that the outcome provides evidence of potentially enormous benefits for physics testing, in addition to establishing a framework for building new molecules with customized electronic properties.
“The behavior of electrons in materials is at the heart of essentially all of today’s technologies,” said Hari Manoharan M.S. ‘92, an associate professor of physics and the research team’s leader, to Gizmodo. “We’re now able to tune the fundamental properties of electrons so they behave in ways rarely seen in ordinary materials.”
– Marshall Watkins