News & Events

Matthew Yankowitz recognized as a finalist for the Blavatnik Regional Award

November 20, 2019

Matthew Yankowitz

MSE is proud to announce that Assistant Professor Matthew Yankowitz was a finalist for the Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists. Yankowitz was recognized for his groundbreaking experimental work with a new class of two-dimensional materials known as van der Waal (vdW) materials.  

“vdW materials provide an incredibly diverse and flexible platform for engineering fundamentally new electronic device properties,” Matt says. “There are a wide variety of vdW materials which can be mechanically exfoliated with Scotch tape down to just a single atomic layer thick. These materials exhibit a wide range of electronic properties by themselves, but the really exciting thing is we can stack them together as we desire to create a ‘vdW heterostructure’ -- basically a sandwich of these layered crystals.

“Because the materials are just a single layer thick, their surfaces interact strongly with their neighbors in the heterostructure, and these interactions can drive emergent new electronic properties which do not exist in any of the parent materials alone. We can further modify the device properties by twisting neighboring layers with respect to one another to create moiré patterns, which are geometric interference patterns between the two crystal lattices. The work I was recognized for was directly modifying the electronic hybridization strength between neighboring crystals in the heterostructure by squeezing the layers together with applied pressure.

“With all of these experimental tuning knobs (stacking different crystals, rotating them, squeezing them), it feels like there is almost no limit to the new physics and device functionalities that we're now able to realize! We can basically design and dynamically control new materials properties simply by stacking two-dimensional crystals which we isolated using just Scotch tape.

“It's hard to stand out and be recognized for your accomplishments amongst the many very, very talented people working in the physical sciences, especially early in your career. This award provides additional motivation for me to just keep following my interests, wherever they may lead!”