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August 19, 2019

Electrons in semiconductor distribute on surface in fractal patterns

A Princeton University-led team of scientists has observed electrons in a semiconductor on the brink of the metal-insulator transition for the first time. On the brink of the metal-insulator transition, the electrons in a manganese-doped gallium arsenide semiconductor are distributed across the surface of the material in complex, fractal-like patterns. These shapes are visible in this electron map, where the colors red, orange and yellow indicate areas on the surface of the semiconductor where electrons are most likely to be found at a given point in time. In this image, the fractal-like probability map of electrons is superimposed on the atomic crystal structure of the material, imaged at the same time.

This research was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through its Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program and by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

To learn more about this research, see the Princeton news story Electrons on the brink: Fractal patterns may be key to semiconductor magnetism. (Date image taken: unknown; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Aug. 19, 2019)

Credit: Roushan/Yazdani Research Group

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