Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers are looking for ways to reduce the size of electronic devices down to atomic dimensions. By studying exotic materials, the team was able to transform a transition metal oxide into an insulator, while reducing the thickness to less than one nanometer.
When the transformation occurs, the conductivity of the material no longer exists and prevents electrons to pass through the material. This characteristic would be beneficial in nanoscale switches or transistors. Through additional testing, the researchers found the electrons form a unique nanoscale pattern similar to a checkerboard and demonstrate how these electrons behave in extremely thin substances.