Basel: New method for tuning the electrical resistance of materials

22 Jul 2009 | News

Research lead | Development opportunity

It is commonly accepted that electrical resistance of a given material cannot be adjusted as is the case with, for example, density and colour. However, Meike Stöhr and her collaborators at Basel University have now developed a new method for selectively tuning surface properties such as resistance.

The team of physicists and chemists has developed a substance which, after heating on a copper surface, exhibits a two dimensional network with nanometre-sized pores. The interaction of this network with the existing electron gas on the metal surface leads the electrons underneath the network to be pushed into the pores, forming quantum dots.

By varying parameters such as the height and diameter of the pores, it is possible to selectively tune the properties of the material. Further possibilities arise from the ability to fill the pores with different molecules. This makes it possible to manipulate properties of the material that depend on the electronic structure, such as conductivity, reflectivity and surface catalysis properties.

The researchers say the finding will lead to the emergence of new materials with adjustable electronic properties.

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