A team led by an Indian-origin scientist in US has discovered a new kind of 2D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that consume a lot less power.
The semiconductor, made of the elements tin and oxygen, or tin monoxide (SnO), is a layer of 2D material only one atom thick, allowing electrical charges to move through it much faster than conventional 3D materials such as silicon.
This material could be used in transistors, the lifeblood of all electronic devices such as computer processors and graphics processors in desktop computers and mobile devices, according to Ashutosh Tiwari, associate professor at the University of Utah in US.
Transistors and other components used in electronic devices are currently made of 3D materials such as silicon and consist of multiple layers on a glass substrate.
But the downside to 3D materials is that electrons bounce around inside the layers in all directions.
The benefit of 2D materials is that the material is made of one layer the thickness of just one or two atoms.
Consequently, the electrons “can only move in one layer so it’s much faster,” said Tiwari, who led the team.
While researchers in this field have recently discovered new types of 2D material such as graphene, molybdenun disulfide and borophene, they have been materials that only allow the movement of N-type, or negative, electrons.
In order to create an electronic device, however, you need semiconductor material that allows the movement of both negative electrons and positive charges known as “holes.”
The tin monoxide material discovered by Tiwari and his team is the first stable P-type 2D semiconductor material ever in existence.
“Now we have everything - we have P-type 2D semiconductors and N-type 2D semiconductors. Now things will move forward much more quickly,” he said.
The new 2D material can lead to the manufacturing of transistors that are even smaller and faster than those in use today, researchers said.
Transistors made with Tiwari’s semiconducting material could lead to computers and smartphones that are more than 100 times faster than regular devices.
Because the electrons move through one layer instead of bouncing around in a 3D material, there will be less friction, meaning the processors will not get as hot as normal computer chips, researchers said.
They also will require much less power to run, a boon for mobile electronics that have to run on battery power. Tiwari said this could be especially important for medical devices such as electronic implants that will run longer on a single battery charge. The research was published in the journal Advanced Electronic Materials.