Diselenide of hafnium and diselenide of zirconium, discovered at Stanford University, will replace silicon microcircuits
For the next generation of full-featured and energy-efficient electronics, computer chips will only need a few atoms. With all its positive properties, silicon, the current key substance in semiconductor production, can not offer such a development and lead us to similar technologies. The solution of this extremely important issue was found by scientists from Stanford, presenting a project of ultra – thin semiconductor materials.
Electrical engineers from private Stanford University identified two new semiconductors. The so-called diselenide hafnium and diselenide zirconium are ultra-thin materials that divide and even outperform some of the best qualities of silicon. In this case, diselenide of hafnium and diselenide of zirconium, according to the authors of the project, Can be reduced to functional microcircuits with a thickness of only three atoms and require less energy than the usual silicon. Despite the fact that the submitted materials are still experimental, the researchers stated that they will create more thinner and energy efficient chips for mobile devices of the future.
“Engineers were not able to make silicon transistors thinner than about five nanometers before material properties begin to change in undesirable ways,” said Eric Pop, an associate professor of electrical engineering and co-author of the study.
As you know, silicon has several qualities, due to which it became the basis of modern electronics. First, he has a very good “native” insulator – silicon dioxide (or in common people – silicic acid). Thanks to the effect of silicon on oxygen during production, it is easier for chip manufacturers to isolate circuits. Other semiconductors do not have this property when they come into contact with oxygen, so they must be covered with additional layers of insulators. The engineers from Stanford managed to form a high-quality insulating acid layer for diselenide of hafnium and diselenide of zirconium. Moreover, new semiconductor materials cope with their own insulation even better than silicon. They form the so-called “high K-dielectrics”, which allow to work with a lower power, Than it is possible with silicon and its insulator of silicon oxide.
When carrying out experiments on the compression of diselenides to the atomic level, researchers at the University of Stanford also discovered one more advantage. The new ultra-thin semiconductors have the optimal energy needed to switch transistors – this is a critical step in the calculations, called the bandgap width. For example, if the band gap is exceeded, the chip consumes too much energy and becomes inefficient. Diselenide hafnium and diselenide zirconium have the optimum range – just like silicon. However, silicon can not be reduced to the size of three atoms (two-thirds of a nanometer), whereas new ultra-thin semiconductors can be. In theory, manufacturers will be able to create transistors 10 times less than all,
“Silicon will not disappear. But for consumers, this could mean a much longer battery life and much more sophisticated functionality if these semiconductors can be integrated with silicon, “added Eric Pop.