Atomically thin gallium layers from solid-melt exfoliation

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Science Advances  09 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, e1701373
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701373

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Among the large number of promising two-dimensional (2D) atomic layer crystals, true metallic layers are rare. Using combined theoretical and experimental approaches, we report on the stability and successful exfoliation of atomically thin “gallenene” sheets on a silicon substrate, which has two distinct atomic arrangements along crystallographic twin directions of the parent α-gallium. With a weak interface between solid and molten phases of gallium, a solid-melt interface exfoliation technique is developed to extract these layers. Phonon dispersion calculations show that gallenene can be stabilized with bulk gallium lattice parameters. The electronic band structure of gallenene shows a combination of partially filled Dirac cone and the nonlinear dispersive band near the Fermi level, suggesting that gallenene should behave as a metallic layer. Furthermore, it is observed that the strong interaction of gallenene with other 2D semiconductors induces semiconducting to metallic phase transitions in the latter, paving the way for using gallenene as promising metallic contacts in 2D devices.

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