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"Lego-Style Materials, Structures and Devices Assembled on Demand from Isolated Atomic Planes"

Final Report Summary - ARTIMATTER (Lego-Style Materials, Structures and Devices Assembled on Demand from Isolated Atomic Planes)

In this work we investigated new atomically-thin (2D) crystals and their assemblies. This allowed various structures and devices with on-demand properties, which do not exist in nature but can now be assembled in Lego style by stacking individual atomic planes on top of each other in a desired sequence. The new materials are usually referred to as van der Waals heterostructures.
We have intensively explored this research venue over the last six years, and it has become one of the hottest subjects in condensed matter physics and materials sciences. Several new subfields have been founded during the project. First, we have achieved exceptionally-high electronic quality for graphene devices, which was crucial in allowing new studies such as electron hydrodynamics, graphene superlattices, Hofstadter butterflies, Brown-Zak oscillations, etc. Second, we have shown that graphene-oxide laminates can work as molecular sieves with controllable pore sizes, which promises new filtration, desalination and water purification technologies. Third, we have found that atomically-thin crystals can exhibit high proton conductivity which should allow new applications in fuel cells, energy storage and hydrogen-isotope separation. Fourth, we have demonstrated angstrom-scale capillaries that can be viewed as one or a few atomic planes extracted from a bulk crystal. This leaves behind a flat void of only several angstroms in height and allows studies of molecular transport under unprecedentedly-strong confinement. Many unusual properties and phenomena have already been found and reported for such atomic-scale capillaries.

The research funded by the ERC was published in leading scientific outlets including 22 papers in Nature and Science, with many more in Nature series magazines and similarly high-quality journals. The impact can also be judged by the facts that 26 of the papers are denoted as 'highly cited' by Web of Science. They have already attracted more than 100 citations each. Three of them are cited > 1,000 times each. The total number of citations coming from this project is already >13,000 and this number will grow rapidly further. In addition, the PI has received 3 prestigious international awards that acknowledge the work done within the project. PhD students and postdocs involved in the project also received other international prizes.