Dirac materials exhibit properties not found in current electronics. Recently, scientists found Dirac materials called layered pnictides exhibited unusual quantum transport, but not many of these materials have been synthesized.

The ability to synthesize different types of Dirac materials is critically important for the fabrication of new devices with unprecedented behavior. Ohno et al. report the synthesis of a family of layered pnictides exhibits unique electronic and magnetic transport.

Some layered pnictides, such as those containing cations having different ionic radii, and cannot be stably synthesized due to their strained structures. As such, many combinations of layered pnictides have not yet been made. To circumvent this stabilization issue, the authors used molecular beam epitaxy, a technique commonly used to synthesize thin films. This method enabled the team to stabilize the new layered pnictide in thin film form.

“We used molecular beam epitaxy to make a new material which does not exist in the bulk form,” coauthor Masaki Uchida said.

To confirm they had synthesized a new layered pnictide, the authors used X-ray diffraction and high-angular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy to characterize the material’s unique crystal structure. They also used a four-point probe technique to show the material’s electronic and magnetic properties at varying temperatures.

The authors plan to continue optimizing the material they created.

“The presented films do not show ideal transport phenomena as expected for magnetic Dirac materials so far,” Uchida said. “We are excited to develop it by applying other thin film techniques in which we can carefully control carrier density.”

Source: “Molecular beam deposition of a new layered pnictide with distorted Sb square nets,” by M. Ohno, M. Uchida, Y. Nakazawa, S. Sato, M. Kriener, A. Miyake, M. Tokunaga, Y. Taguchi, and M. Kawasaki. APL Materials (2021). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0043453.