December 6, 2011
MoS2 Found To Be More Useful Than Silicon For Microchips
Researchers from the Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) in Switzerland have discovered that the material molybdenite (MoS2) proves itself to be better for making low-power microchips than silicon, which has been used for decades.
MoS2, a naturally occurring material can be used in thinner layers meaning the chips can be made more flexible and use less power. The researchers chose this material for its easy availability. Professor Andras Kis, director of LANES told the BBC, “There is something like 19 million metric tons around.”
The research team experimented with the material by devising a simple six transistor logic circuit that performed simple operations. This proved that more complex designs could be made on thinner chips than silicon.
According to Professor Kis, “The problem with silicon is that you cannot make very thin things from it because it is very reactive. The surface likes to oxidize - to bind with oxygen and hydrogen - and that makes its electrical properties degrade when you want to make a very thin film.”
The thinnest usable layers of silicon in computer chips are about 2 nanometers thick while the MoS2 can be made in layers 3 atoms thick, three times smaller.
Because the material can be made thinner, the transistors can be made smaller. Smaller transistors mean lower-power circuits.
Professor Kis says, “If you have a transistor that is very thin it will also automatically dissipate less power - so it spends less power. So in a nutshell it allows you to make electronics that spend less electrical energy.”
MoS2 is also as strong as stainless steel and is also very flexible. The material can be stretched out by 10 percent of its length, while silicon would shatter with that amount of force on it. This means MoS2 can be the basis for flexible circuitry, possibly cell-phones that would conform to the users face, or possibly a circuit rolled into a tube.
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