Atom-Thick Semiconductor Grown at Useable Size
Since its discovery, graphene has gotten a great deal of interest for researchers, due to its unique properties, including being two-dimensional. In the years following, other 2D materials have been isolated and studied, to learn their properties and how they may interact with each other to form complex devices. Researchers at Rice University have recently found a way to grow a 2D semiconductor, which could have implications in the future of computing.
Among graphene's properties is its extreme electrical conductivity, which is useful but also limiting as electronics need more than a conductor. Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is another 2D material, with a similar structure to graphene, but is an insulator. The material the Rice researchers are working with now is the semiconductor molybdenum disulfide (MDS) and could have great potential when combined with the other two materials. This material has been investigated before, but was always hard to grow with suitably large grain sizes. The researchers had noticed that specific features in the substrate affected its growth, and with that knowledge they managed to grow larger, useable grains.
Though more work is going to be needed before we can see these three materials in products, they could be combined to create field-effect transistors, integrated logic circuits, photodetectors, and flexible optoelectronics. For now, materials scientists are going to be having a field day trying to build special crystals from these materials.
Source: Rice University