Atomically thin device could bring new class of electronics

Oct. 22, 2013 at 4:19 PM
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EVANSTON, Ill., Oct. 22 (UPI) -- New materials only atoms thick could bring the next generation of computing, U.S. scientists say, if some engineering challenges are overcome.

Integrating the virtually two-dimensional materials to create necessary circuits has until now proved difficult, materials scientists at Northwestern University said.

However, new research has moved a significant step toward fabricating complex nanoscale electronics, they said.

The researchers report success in integrating two atomically thin materials -- molybdenum disulfide and carbon nanotubes -- to create what is known as a p-n heterojunction diode, an interface between two types of semiconducting materials.

"The p-n junction diode is among the most ubiquitous components of modern electronics," Mark Hersam, director of the university's Materials Research Center said.

Among the most widely used electronic structures, the p-n junction diode forms the basis of a number of technologies, including solar cells, light-emitting diodes, photodetectors, computers, and lasers.

"By creating this device using atomically thin materials, we not only realize the benefits of conventional diodes but also achieve the ability to electronically tune and customize the device characteristics," Hersam said.

"We anticipate that this work will enable new types of electronic functionality and could be applied to the growing number of emerging two-dimensional materials."

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