Super flat material could extend life of Moore's Law

A faster semiconductor made of tin and oxygen(Credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

Researchers could be fending off the demise of Moore's Law with the help of a new material that allows electrons to move from point A to point B faster. Engineers at the University of Utah discovered a new kind of flat semiconducting material made of tin monoxide that is only one-atom thick, allowing electrical charges to pass through it faster than silicon or other 3D materials.

Charges traveling through conventional electronic devices bounce around in all directions when traveling through transistors and other components consisting of layers of silicon on a glass substrate. Engineers have only recently begun to work with 2D materials like graphene, molybdenum disulfide and borophene, which force electrons to "only move in one layer so it's much faster," says professor Ashutosh Tiwari, who led the research.

Tiwari says the new material fills an important gap in speeding up electronics because, unlike graphene and other near atom-thin materials, it allows both negative electrons and positive charges – or "holes" – to move through it. This has led the team to describe the material as the first stable P-type 2D semiconductor material in existence.

"Now we have everything," he says. "Now things will move forward much more quickly."

The team believes the material will enable the manufacture of transistors that are smaller and faster than those currently in use, leading to computers and mobile devices that are 100 times faster than current devices and run cooler and more efficiently, thereby extending battery life.

"The field is very hot right now, and people are very interested in it," Tiwari says. "So in two or three years we should see at least some prototype device."

The research was published this week in the journal, Advanced Electronic Materials.

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