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What challenges do monolayer semiconductors face?

12/3/2021 4:46:31 PM      view:535

Silicon has been the de facto semiconductor for the better part of 70 years, thanks to its versatility, availability, and well-understood characteristics. However, engineers are quickly approaching the physical limits of silicon, and now other semiconductor materials are being researched to see if they can replace silicon in the long run.

Some of the characteristics that researchers look for in a material are whether it allows for physically smaller devices, if it can operate at higher power, and if it can operate at higher frequencies.

One promising technology is monolayers, atomic structures that are only one unit in height (one unit refers to the smallest crystal structure). In the case of graphene, the layer is only one carbon atom in height, and in the case of more advanced monolayers (such as MoSi2N4), the structure is approximately 6 atoms in height. These materials show promise as they often have unusual electrical characteristics such as fixed resistances (caused by the lack of impurities and only one dimension for electron transport) and the ability to make incredibly small transistors.

However, monolayers also suffer from some drawbacks, and one of these drawbacks is their electrical contact with other layers. Generally speaking, monolayers in contact with metal layers will form Schottky barriers, which require a specific voltage level to be applied before the current can flow. This required voltage not only makes using the monolayer more complex but also wastes energy.