Info
Info
News Article

MoS2-based Material Moves In Response To Light

News

US researchers say light-activated phenomenon could become the basis for microscopic robotic grippers and solar cells

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US has developed a semiconductor nanocomposite that moves in response to light. 

The researchers think that the material, which is made of MoS2 encased in a polymer, could be used in microscopic actuators and grippers for surgical robots, light-powered micro-mirrors for optical telecommunications systems, and more efficient solar cells and photodetectors.

"This is a new area of science," said Balaji Panchapakesan, associate professor of mechanical engineering at WPI and lead author of a paper "˜Chromatic Mechanical Response in 2D Layered Transition Metal Dichalcogenide (TMDs)-based Nanocomposites' about the new material published in Scientific Reports, an open access journal from the publishers of Nature. 

"Very few materials are able to convert photons directly into mechanical motion. In this paper, we present the first semiconductor nanocomposite material known to do so. It is a fascinating material that is also distinguished by its high strength and its enhanced optical absorption when placed under mechanical stress.

"Tiny grippers and actuators made with this material could be used on Mars rovers to capture fine dust particles." Panchapakesan noted. "They could travel through the bloodstream on tiny robots to capture cancer cells or take minute tissue samples. The material could be used to make micro-actuators for rotating mirrors in optical telecommunications systems; they would operate strictly with light, and would require no other power source."

Like other semiconductor materials, MoS2, is characterised by the way electrons are arranged and move about within its atoms. In their experiments, Panchapakesan and his team, which included graduate students Vahid Rahneshin and Farhad Khosravi, as well as colleagues at the University of Louisville and the University of Warsaw Pasteura, observed that the atomic orbitals of the molybdenum and sulphur atoms in MoS2 are arranged in a unique way that permits excitons within the conduction band to interact with what are known as the p-orbitals of the sulphur atoms. 

This "exciton resonance" contributes to the strong sigma bonds that give the two dimensional array of atoms in MoS2 its extraordinary strength. The strength of this resonance is also responsible for a unique effect that can generate heat within the material. It is the heat that gives rise to the material's chromatic (light-induced) mechanical response.

To take advantage of the later phenomenon, Panchapakesan's team created thin films made up of just one to three layers of MoS2 encased in layers of a rubber-like polymer. They exposed these nanocomposites to various wavelengths of light and found that the heat generated as a result of the exciton resonance caused the polymer to expand and contract, depending on the wavelength of the light used.

In previous work, Panchapakesan's team harnessed this photo-mechanical response by fabricating tiny grippers that open and close in response to light pulses. The grippers can capture plastic beads the size of a single human cell.

In further testing, Panchapakesan and his team discovered another unique behaviour of the MoS2 composite that opens the door to a different set of applications. Employing what is known as strain engineering, they stretched the material and discovered that mechanical stresses increased its ability to absorb light.

"This is something that cannot be done with conventional thin-film semiconductors," Panchapakesan said, "because when you stretch them, they will prematurely break. But with its unique material strength, molybdenum disulfide can be stretched. And its increased optical absorption under strain makes it a good candidate for more efficient solar cells, photodetectors, and detectors for thermal and infrared cameras.

"The exciton resonance, photomechanical response, and increased optical absorption under strain make this an extraordinary material and an intriguing subject for further investigation," he added.



AngelTech Live III: Join us on 12 April 2021!

AngelTech Live III will be broadcast on 12 April 2021, 10am BST, rebroadcast on 14 April (10am CTT) and 16 April (10am PST) and will feature online versions of the market-leading physical events: CS International and PIC International PLUS a brand new Silicon Semiconductor International Track!

Thanks to the great diversity of the semiconductor industry, we are always chasing new markets and developing a range of exciting technologies.

2021 is no different. Over the last few months interest in deep-UV LEDs has rocketed, due to its capability to disinfect and sanitise areas and combat Covid-19. We shall consider a roadmap for this device, along with technologies for boosting its output.

We shall also look at microLEDs, a display with many wonderful attributes, identifying processes for handling the mass transfer of tiny emitters that hold the key to commercialisation of this technology.

We shall also discuss electrification of transportation, underpinned by wide bandgap power electronics and supported by blue lasers that are ideal for processing copper.

Additional areas we will cover include the development of GaN ICs, to improve the reach of power electronics; the great strides that have been made with gallium oxide; and a look at new materials, such as cubic GaN and AlScN.

Having attracted 1500 delegates over the last 2 online summits, the 3rd event promises to be even bigger and better – with 3 interactive sessions over 1 day and will once again prove to be a key event across the semiconductor and photonic integrated circuits calendar.

So make sure you sign up today and discover the latest cutting edge developments across the compound semiconductor and integrated photonics value chain.

REGISTER FOR FREE

VIEW SESSIONS

Info
×
Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
×
Logo
×
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the Compound Semiconductor Magazine, the Compound Semiconductor Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.


Please subscribe me to:

 

You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in:
 
X
Info
X
Info
{taasPodcastNotification}
Live Event