Twistronics (moiré)

Moiré typically refers to the visual of a pattern overlaid on top of another pattern that is similar, but not exactly the same.

Moiré patterns are a type of interference pattern and, like the golden ratio, originate in mathematics and physics.

Feather image (below) courtesy of fir0002

Moiré pattern on a parrot's feathers
Moiré patterns became an issue once digital photography was invented. Moiré is rarely seen in nature, but is visible in this photo of the fine detail of a parrot's feathers.
The moiré effect in X-rays has been successfully used to help us see blood vessels and tissue. Moiré phase-imaging with X-rays was found to be better than conventional contrast radiography.
The Moiré effect in X-rays helps us to see blood vessels and tissue. Moiré phase-imaging with X-rays is better than conventional contrast radiography.
Bees on a honeycomb

Nature’s engineers

From birth, honey bees know how to build perfect patterns, and construct their hives as a hexagonal lattice of holes which start as cylinders. It is thought that the ‘construction behaviour’ of bees results in the hexagonal arrangement - which is a stroke of lucky as it's the most efficient use of space! This hexagonal lattice is similar to what we see in graphene - defined as a single atomic layer created from graphite. Graphene was one of the first two dimensional (2D) materials reported and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2010.

How can the moiré effect be used?

Future applications of the moiré effect include:

  • Magnetic memory vices
  • Artificial intelligence building blocks
  • Non-invasive medical diagnosis
  • Solar and thermal energy
  • Energy storage
  • Perfect optical surfaces

Related research at Loughborough

There are a variety of research areas that benefit from greater understanding or use of moiré effects.