Superlattices based on van der Waals 2D materials
Two-dimensional (2D) materials exhibit a number of improved mechanical, optical, and electronic properties compared to their bulk counterparts. The absence of dangling bonds in the cleaved surfaces of these materials allows combining different 2D materials into van der Waals heterostructures to fabricate p-n junctions, photodetectors, and 2D–2D ohmic contacts that show unexpected performances. These intriguing results are regularly summarized in comprehensive reviews. A strategy to tailor their properties even further and to observe novel quantum phenomena consists in the fabrication of superlattices whose unit cell is formed either by two dissimilar 2D materials or by a 2D material subjected to a periodic perturbation, each component contributing with different characteristics. Furthermore, in a 2D material-based superlattice, the interlayer interaction between the layers mediated by van der Waals forces constitutes a key parameter to tune the global properties of the superlattice. The above-mentioned factors reflect the potential to devise countless combinations of van der Waals 2D material-based superlattices. In the present feature article, we explain in detail the state-of-the-art of 2D material-based superlattices and describe the different methods to fabricate them, classified as vertical stacking, intercalation with atoms or molecules, moiré patterning, strain engineering and lithographic design. We also aim to highlight some of the specific applications of each type of superlattices.