One Scientist’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure: A Laboratory’s “Irritating” Byproduct Now Supplies 2-D Materials Research

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Source: Ames Laboratory,
Source: Ames Laboratory,

October 20, 2021 | Originally published by Ames Laboratory on August 25, 2021

While making materials samples to pursue their own research goals, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory discovered that an unwanted byproduct of their experiments was an extremely high-quality and difficult-to-obtain substance sought after by scientists researching layered materials.

With a project name like “Complex States, Emergent Phenomena & Superconductivity in Intermetallic and Metal-like Compounds,” one immediately senses that the team of scientists behind that title might have a knack for the weird, unusual, and never-before-seen. The Ames Lab group investigates metallic and semi-metallic compounds that have magnetic, superconducting, or other properties that are designed to probe the fundamental mysteries of how correlated or emergent states can form and also might be useful in future tech applications, such as energy creation, transmission, and storage as well as quantum computing. But before they can investigate the weird, unusual, and never-before-seen, they have to make it– so the team has decades of expertise in creating those materials as well.

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