Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility: New Quasi-2D Gold Discovered by Physicists

Researchers from the MIPT have synthesized a quasi-2D gold layer.
Fabienne Lang

Atomically thin layers can now be formed by materials usually unknown for being two-dimensional. A quasi-2D gold film has been synthesized by researchers from the MIPT Center for Photonics and 2D Materials.

Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility: New Quasi-2D Gold Discovered by Physicists
Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility. Source: Karen Roe/ Flickr

Could this lead to the creation of Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility?

As published in Advanced Materials Interfaces, this discovery means that now quasi-2D gold can be placed on arbitrary surfaces. These nanometers-thick ultrathin gold films act as conductors of electricity and are extremely useful for see-through electronic devices.

Moreover, this new class of optical metamaterials, with their distinctive capacity to control light may create unexpected technologies - Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility comes to mind.


Nobel Prize-winning researchers

Graphene, the first 2D material discovered, when synthesized along with the study of its thrilling properties has created a novel field of science and technology. The 2010 Nobel Prize in physics of the "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material" was awarded to MIPT graduates Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov.

Since graphene came onto the scene, over 100 similar materials, disparately linked to biomedicine, electronics, and aerospace, have been discovered. These create a layered class of crystals, with strong internal unity but weak binding properties.

Think of graphite pencils, our everyday pencils, they are packed as stacked layers of graphene, yet they are not strongly bound, as proven by Geim and Novoselov who peeled them off with adhesive tape. 

Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility: New Quasi-2D Gold Discovered by Physicists
Graphite pencils. Source: Rosmarie Voegtli / Flickr

This discovery could potentially solve medical issues

However, materials such as gold, silver, and copper do not comprise a layered structure, even though they could create 2D layers. This could be integral in the medical field, as ultrathin electrodes have the possibility to solve medical problems and eventually merge a living being's nervous system through electronic devices. 

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Up until now, the technology hadn't been able to yield thin enough layers, most of which were approximately 20 nanometers thick. In order for films to be transparent, they need to be over two times thinner. 

Thus came in the MIPT researchers who hypothesized that 2D metals could potentially be placed over other 2D materials. Graphene was the candidate first. Unfortunately, in their research, the below-10-nanometer films did not conduct electricity. 

As one of the lead authors of the study Yury Stebunov says, "We have had that idea for quite some time. However, many of the technologies for working with 2D materials are still in development. Not all of them are widely available." 

One single layer enabled record-thin metal films

A layer of molybdenum disulfide created record-thin metal films. The good news is that the research team's technique can be universally applied as this monolayer can be placed on an arbitrary surface and will produce an ultrathin, ultrasmooth metal film layer. 

"This is just the beginning..." 

A co-author of the study, Aleksey Arsenin, and head of the Center for Photonics and 2D Materials at MIPT, included that: "We expect that this is merely the beginning of quasi-2D metal science. A while ago, these materials were inaccessible even to scientists. With our technology, we can talk about the prospects they hold for flexible and transparent electronics. Hopefully, we will soon see it in production."

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