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Electrons congregate in ways that may be useful to 'valleytronics'

A National Science Foundation-funded study has revealed an emergent electronic behavior on the surface of bismuth crystals that could lead to insights on the growing area of technology known as "valleytronics." The term refers to energy valleys that form in crystals and that can trap single electrons. These valleys potentially could be used to store information, greatly enhancing what is capable with modern electronic devices. In the new study, researchers observed that electrons in bismuth prefer to crowd into one valley rather than distributing equally into the six available valleys. This behavior creates a type of electricity called ferroelectricity, which involves the separation of positive and negative charges onto opposite sides of a material.

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