New Material Is Step Towards Future Of Electronics

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

MIT scientists say a new two-dimensional material may be able to open up a plethora of future applications.

Reporting in the journal Nano Letters published online this month, researchers say they have already succeeded in making a variety of electronic components out of a new material similar to the one-atom graphene, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2),

Tomás Palacios, the Emmanuel E. Landsman Associate Professor of EECS and a researcher on the project, said he thinks graphene and MoS2 are just the beginning of a new realm of research on two-dimensional materials.

“It´s the most exciting time for electronics in the last 20 or 30 years,” he said in a press release. “It´s opening up the door to a completely new domain of electronic materials and devices.”

MoS2 has been used for many years as an industrial lubricant, but it had never been seen as a 2D platform for electronic devices until last year, when researchers in Switzerland produced a transistor on the material.

After this, the MIT researchers went into action and found a good way to make large sheets of the material using a chemical vapor disposition process.

The researchers said that because it was already widely used as a lubricant, and due to ongoing research by MIT and other labs turning it into large sheets, scaling up production of the material for practical uses should be easier than with other new materials.

The team was able to fabricate a variety of basic electronic devices on the material, including an inverter, a NAND gate, a memory device, and a more complex circuit called a ring oscillator.

They said one potential applications of the new material is large-screen displays like television sets and computer monitors. Because the material is so thin, even a very large display would use only an extremely small quantity of the raw materials. This, they said, could reduce cost and weight, as well as help improve energy efficiency.

The material could be used in combination with other 2D materials in the future to make light-emitting devices. Instead of creating a point source of light from one bulb, an entire wall could be made to glow, producing softer, less glaring light.

The material is also completely transparent, and can be deposited on virtually any other material, such as glass, enabling it to be used on eyeglasses or windows.

Ali Javey, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, who was not involved in this research, said MoS2 is a promising material that can be used for future electronics, but did say more work still needs to be done.

He said in the press release that the team’s work “takes an important step forward in advancing the field of layered semiconductors.”