Researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy have created a technique that allows them to “sketch” electronic patterns into programmable quantum materials: lanthanum aluminate/strontium titanate or “LAO/STO”. Using this method, they can create quantum devices with characteristic sizes comparable to the spacing between electrons, and even make electrons “pass through” an artificial crystal lattice with extremely high precision.
To develop this capability, the researchers redesigned the electron beam lithography equipment, which is typically used to create nanostructures by exposing a hardened layer of resist in a mask, and then adding or removing material layers. The researchers did not operate the instrument at the usual voltage of 20,000 volts, but lowered it to only a few hundred volts. At this time, electrons cannot penetrate the surface of the oxide material, but without any resist. The lower catalyzes the reaction that the surface of the LAO is positively charged and the LAO/STO interface is locally conductive. Compared with atomic force microscope-based lithography, electron beam writing speed is 10,000 times faster without losing spatial resolution or reprogramming capabilities.
In addition, the team is led by Jeremy Levy, Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics and Director of the Pittsburgh Institute of Quantum Research, who described the method in his paper: “Using ultra-low-voltage electron beams for nano-scale control of LaAIO3/SrTiO3 metal-insulator transformation. The paper was published in “Applied Physics Letters” on December 21.
Dengyu Yang, a graduate student researching the technology, is the main author of the paper and compared it with “sketching with a pen on a canvas.”
She said: “In this case, the canvas is LAO/STO, and the “pen” is an electron beam. This powerful function allows us to participate in more complex structures and expand the device from one-dimensional to two-dimensional.
Yang and Levi said that this discovery may have an impact on the fields of quantum transport and quantum simulation.
“We are very interested in using this technology to programmatically create a new family of two-dimensional electronic materials based on artificial atomic arrays written on this technology. Our group recently published a paper in “Science Progress”, demonstrating The idea of one-dimensional quantum simulation uses the equipment of the AFM method. The new technology based on EBL will enable us to perform quantum simulation in two dimensions.”
In addition to Yang and Levy, Pitt’s collaborators include research professor Patrick Irvin and graduate students Shan Hao, Guo Guo, Muqing Yu, Yang Hu, and Swanson School of Engineering assistant professor Jun Jun. Other branches include the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Pittsburgh Institute for Quantum Research.
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