Incredibly Thin Silicon Transistors Could Create Super-Fast Computers
Newly developed, incredibly thin silicon transistors - only one atom layer thick - could one day create super-fast computers, according to new research.
Silicene is the world's thinnest silicon material, and thus has been difficult to work with until now - it is extremely complex and becomes unstable when exposed to air. However, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have overcome this challenge by making silicone into transistors - semiconductor devices used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power.
"Apart from introducing a new player in the playground of 2-D materials, silicene, with its close chemical affinity to silicon, suggests an opportunity in the road map of the semiconductor industry," Deji Akinwande, who led the research, said in a statement. "The major breakthrough here is the efficient low-temperature manufacturing and fabrication of silicene devices for the first time."
This one-of-a-kind device could pave the way for future generations of faster, energy-efficient computer chips.
The research team was able to tame this hard-to-work-with material by forming a silicene sheet on a thin layer of silver, and then adding a nanometer-thick layer of alumina on top. This created protective layers that allowed researchers to peel off the silicene without exposing it to air that could render it useless.
Incredibly, human-made silicene was only a theoretical dream, now made into a reality that could revolutionize the computer industry. Akinwande and his team hope to create new structures and methods for creating silicene, which may lead to low-energy, high-speed digital computer chips.
The results are described further in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
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