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A new method to grow 2D materials paves the way for 2D transistors


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Forward-looking: An international team of scientists have published research on a novel way to grow 2D materials using a method that could bring 2D transistor-based electronics to market sooner rather than later.

Moore’s law isn’t dead just yet, and it could soon get a new lease on life thanks to groundbreaking research by an international and multi-institutional team of scientists. Looking for new methods to develop 2D materials, the researchers have seemingly developed a “promising” growing process that could power next-generation electronics.

Intel and other technology companies are hard at work to manufacture the first chip containing a trillion transistors, and they are all looking at new single atom-thick (ie “2D”) materials and compounds as a possible alternative to silicon for the production of said transistors.

Led by Sang-Hoon Bae, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and other two researchers, the new work includes two technical breakthroughs that would make electronic devices “faster and use less power.”

The research has been published in Nature, and it conceives a growing method that can “overcome three extremely difficult challenges to create the new materials.” These challenges include securing single crystallinity at wafer-scale, preventing irregular thickness during growth at wafer-scale, vertical heterostructures at wafer-scale.

While 3D materials used to manufacture traditional transistors go through a process of roughening and smoothing to become an even-surfaced material, the researchers say, 2D materials cannot and thus the final result is an uneven surface that “makes it difficult to have a large-scale, high-quality, uniform 2D material.”

By designing a novel “geometric-confined structure that facilitates kinetic control of 2D materials,” the scientists were seemingly able to solve the “all grand challenges in high-quality 2D material growth.” Another technical breakthrough is the demonstration of a “single-domain heterojunction TMDs at the wafer scale.” The researchers used various substrates and chemical compounds to confine the growth of the nuclei, using said substrates as a physical barrier that “prevented lateral-epitaxy formation and forced vertical growth.”

According to Sang-Hoon Bae, the new confined growth technique “can bring all the great findings in physics of 2D materials to the level of commercialization by allowing the construction of single domain layer-by-layer heterojunctions at the wafer-scale.”

The new achievement will lay a strong foundation for 2D materials to fit into industrial settings, accelerating the creation of new manufacturing processes for 2D transistors. Bae said other researchers are already studying this new material at very small sizes of tens to hundreds of micrometers.


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