Twistronics is the study of how the angle (the twist) between layers of two-dimensional materials can change their electrical properties. Materials such as graphene have been shown to have vastly different electrical properties (ranging from non-conductive to superconductive) depending on the angle between the layers.
In 2007, National University of Singapore physicist Antonio Castro Neto hypothesized that pressing two misaligned graphene sheets together might yield new electrical properties, and separately proposed that graphene might offer a route to superconductivity, but he did not combine the two ideas. The theoretical basis of twistronics was further developed by a 2011 paper by Allan MacDonald that predicted that a specific magic angle would radically change the amount of energy a free electron would require to tunnel between two graphene sheets.
This hypothesis was confirmed by Pablo Jarillo-Herrero of MIT and colleagues from Harvard and the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, who verified in 2018 that superconductivity existed in bilayer graphene where one layer was rotated by an angle of 1.1° relative to the other, forming a Moiré pattern, at a temperature of 1.7 K (−271.45 °C; −456.61 °F). 21-year old doctoral candidate Yuan Cao created two bilayer devices that acted as an insulator instead of a conductor under a magnetic field. Increasing the field strength turned the second device into a superconductor. Because the only variable is field strength, studying superconductivity in bilayer graphene is faster and more convenient than working with multi-element cuprate crystals.
Publication of these discoveries has generated a host of theoretical papers seeking to understand and explain the phenomena as well as numerous experiments using varying numbers of layers, twist angles and other materials.
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