UW research resolves controversial 'energy gap' size between atomic material - Casper, WY Oil City News
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UW research resolves controversial ‘energy gap’ size between atomic material

University of Wyoming UW flag (Oil City Staff)

CASPER, Wyo —University of Wyoming research has resolved a long standing physical science controversy regarding the amount of force between atoms of chromium tribromide, a Van der Waals material.

The material has implications for quantum computing and information storage, UW said.  

The value of the distance of the ‘energy gap,’ had been reported by previous based on optical measurements.

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The team’s paper, “Small Energy Gap Revealed in CrBr3 by Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy,” said that, “an unambiguous determination of the energy gap is critical to the correct interpretations of the experimental results.”

It was published Dec. 8 in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, and included into the journal’s “hot articles.” It will be featured on the front cover of the upcoming print edition.

TeYu Chien, an associate professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, and is team found that the gap is actually much smaller. They resolved the controversy using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy measurements, UW said. 

‘Van der Waals’ forces are the subtle attractions and repulsions between molecules as result of fluctuating polarizations, and much weaker forces than bonds. The forces weaken rapidly as the distance between molecules is increased.

A van der Waals material has very weak interlayer interactions and relatively stronger intralayer atom-to-atom bonding, UW said, which allows researchers to peel them and stack them for any combination of materials at atomic thickness.

Materials like graphite rely on Van der Waals forces to bond together inherently brittle layers of graphene.

“Materials having such properties have potential applications in engineering at minimizing the size of the electronic and spintronic devices toward atomic level,” Chien said.

Read the full release here.