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Shedding Light On – And Through – 2D Materials

The ability of metallic or semiconducting materials to absorb, reflect and act upon light is of primary importance to scientists developing optoelectronics – electronic devices that interact with light to perform tasks. Rice University scientists have now produced a method to determine the properties of atom-thin materials that promise to refine the modulation and manipulation of light.

Two-dimensional materials have been a hot research topic since graphene, a flat lattice of carbon atoms, was identified in 2001. Since then, scientists have raced to develop, either in theory or in the lab, novel 2D materials with a range of optical, electronic and physical properties.

Until now, they have lacked a comprehensive guide to the optical properties those materials offer as ultrathin reflectors, transmitters or absorbers.

The Rice lab of materials theorist Boris Yakobson took up the challenge. Yakobson and his co-authors, graduate student and lead author Sunny Gupta, postdoctoral researcher Sharmila Shirodkar and research scientist Alex Kutana, used state-of-the-art theoretical methods to compute the maximum optical properties of 55 2D materials.

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