Scientists create first organic/inorganic hybrid 2D material

An international team led by chemist Kasper Pedersen at the Technical University of Denmark has synthesized a novel nanomaterial possessing electrical and magnetic properties that make it suitable for use in future quantum computers and other applications in electronics. The team describe this new nanomaterial – chromium-chloride-pyrazine (CrCl2(pyrazine)2) – in a paper in Nature Chemistry. Chromium-chloride-pyrazine is a layered material that can act as a precursor for a so-called two-dimensional (2D) material. In principle, a 2D material has the thickness of just a single molecule, and so can possess properties that are very different to those of the bulk, three-dimensional (3D) form of the same material. This is especially the case for electrical properties. While in a 3D material, electrons are able to travel in any direction, in a 2D material they are restricted to moving horizontally, as long as the wavelength of the electron is longer than the thickness of the 2D layer. Graphene is the most well-known 2D material, consisting of carbon atoms in a lattice structure, which gives it remarkable strength. Since graphene was first synthesized in 2004, hundreds of other 2D materials have been created, some of which may be candidates for applications in quantum electronics. The novel material synthesized in this study is, however, based on a very different concept. While the other 2D materials are all inorganic – just like graphene – chromium-chloride-pyrazine 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," explains Pedersen. "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." As well as the electrical properties, the magnetic properties of chromium-chloride-pyrazine can be finely adjusted, which is particularly relevant for the new field of ‘spintronics’. "While in normal electronics, only the charge of the electrons is utilized, also their spin – which is a quantum mechanical property – is used in spintronics," says Pedersen. "This is highly interesting for quantum computing applications. Therefore, development of nano-scale materials which are both conducting and magnetic is most relevant." Besides its applications in quantum computing, chromium-chloride-pyrazine may be of interest for use in future superconductors, catalysts, batteries, fuel cells and electronics in general. Still, companies are not going to begin producing the material right away. "Not yet, at least! This is still fundamental research," says Pedersen. "Since we are suggesting a material synthesized 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." This story is adapted from material from the Technical University of Denmark, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.