Scratching The Surface


A way to assess electronic properties of the surface of pyrite, a common naturally occurring compound of iron, has been found. While it is easy to understand bulk properties, it is difficult to assess chemical properties of surfaces of materials due to lack of tools. The process requires measurements to a depth of just one or two atomic layers. The new method involves the use of a technique developed in the 1980s, called scanning tunneling spectroscopy, along with modern computational methods. Pyrite’s electronic properties have largely remained unexplored but it is considered to be of immense use in solar cells.


Down To Earth, November 2013