Chiral atomically thin films

Nat Nanotechnol. 2016 Jun;11(6):520-524. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.3. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Chiral materials possess left- and right-handed counterparts linked by mirror symmetry. These materials are useful for advanced applications in polarization optics, stereochemistry and spintronics. In particular, the realization of spatially uniform chiral films with atomic-scale control of their handedness could provide a powerful means for developing nanodevices with novel chiral properties. However, previous approaches based on natural or grown films, or arrays of fabricated building blocks, could not offer a direct means to program intrinsic chiral properties of the film on the atomic scale. Here, we report a chiral stacking approach, where two-dimensional materials are positioned layer-by-layer with precise control of the interlayer rotation (θ) and polarity, resulting in tunable chiral properties of the final stack. Using this method, we produce left- and right-handed bilayer graphene, that is, a two-atom-thick chiral film. The film displays one of the highest intrinsic ellipticity values (6.5 deg μm(-1)) ever reported, and a remarkably strong circular dichroism (CD) with the peak energy and sign tuned by θ and polarity. We show that these chiral properties originate from the large in-plane magnetic moment associated with the interlayer optical transition. Furthermore, we show that we can program the chiral properties of atomically thin films layer-by-layer by producing three-layer graphene films with structurally controlled CD spectra.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't