What are van der Waals (VdW) materials?

  • Until six years ago, such materials did not exist but today, researchers believe that they hold the key to a ‘post-silicon’ electronics. VdW materials are made of piles of ultra-thin layers that are held together by weak van der Waals bonds, which arise when atoms are in close proximity.
  • The success of graphene — a well known vdW material — stimulated scientists to look for other 2D crystals, where layers can be changed, added or removed in order to introduce new physical properties such as magnetism.
  • Controlling magnetism, as is typical of such materials, could replace the current hard drive assemblies in computers and even become the key to quantum computing.