Created a robot for automatic Assembly design of nanomaterials

Heterostructures of van der Waals is the Assembly of atomically thin two-dimensional crystalline materials that possess excellent conductivity properties for use in modern electronic devices. A famous example of a two-dimensional semiconductor graphene is composed of honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms with thickness of one atom. Before the development of heterostructures of van der Waals forces were limited to complex and time-consuming manual operations required for their production. Two-dimensional crystals obtained by exfoliation of the bulk material, it was necessary to identify, collect, and then put together manually. Such a process is clearly not suitable for industrial production of electronic devices with undervaluing the heterostructures.

A group of Japanese scientists from the Institute of industrial science at the University of Tokyo solved this problem by developing an automated robot that speeds up Assembly of two-dimensional crystals and heterostructures formation vanderwaals. The robot consists of automatic high-speed optical microscope, which detects the crystals and record their provisions and parameters in a computer database. Special designs of structures, using the information in the database. Then the heterostructure is going robotic equipment controlled by a computer algorithm.

The results were published in Nature Communications.

“The robot can find, to raise and assemble two-dimensional crystals in a small box,” says the author Satoru Masubuchi. “He’s able to find up to 400 graphene flakes per hour, which is much faster than if you do it manually”.

Assembling graphene flakes in heterostructures of van der Waals forces, the robot was able to be up to four layers per hour. With his help, created vanderwaals heterostructure (pictured above) out of 29 alternating layers of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (another common semiconductor). A record number of layers, hand-made, was 13, so robot significantly surpassed men in the ability to this operation.

The development of such a robot will speed up and improve the production of heterostructures and their use in electronic devices, step by step bringing us closer to the creation of devices that contain materials design at the atomic level.

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