Moore's law is one of the most prominent trends in the field of miniaturising electronic equipment. The principle justifies how the number of components present within integrated circuits of computers doubles every two years. The trend is primarily achievable due to the constantly decreasing size of transistors; Some are so small that thousands of them can pack in a chip the size of a fingernail. However, as this trend grows, engineers will eventually reach the material limits of silicon-based device technology. So innovations are needed so that the trend can be truly explored.
The hurdle might soon be solved as a research team has discovered a family of 2D (two-dimensional) semiconductors that could be the trailblazer for energy-efficient and high-performance electronics. The study could be a significant development for Discrete Semiconductor Devices as it may lead to the fabrication of semiconductor devices applicable for mainstream electronics and optoelectronics. Further, the team believes that it might completely replace silicon-based technology in some time.
2D semiconductors are made up of only a few atoms making them extremely thin. Due to their nanosize scales, they automatically become solid contenders for silicon in the race of developing compact electronic devices. Though on the downside, several 2D semiconductors available today are afflicted by high electrical resistance when they come in contact with metals.
The team has found that the family of 2D semiconductors, known as WSi2N4 and MoSi2N4, forms an ohmic contact with metals like nickel, titanium, and scandium. These metals are essential and used throughout the semiconductor device industry.
Furthermore, the researchers have demonstrated that the novel materials are free of FLP (Fermi level pinning). It refers to a problem that severely limits the application's ability of conventional 2D semiconductors. It is an adverse effect that happens within numerous metal-semiconductor contacts and is caused due to defects and sophisticated material interactions at the contact's interface. This kind of effect 'pins' the contact's electric properties to an arrow range with no changes being caused due to the metal used in the contact.
Interestingly, the team demonstrated that WSi2N4 and MoSi2N4 are protected naturally from FLP. This is because an inserted Si-N outer layer shields the semiconductor layer present inside from all defects and material interactions that occur at the contact interface. Because of this protection, the Schottky barrier is 'unpinned' and can be tuned to the needs of a wide variety of applications.
The improvement in performance makes 2D semiconductors a step ahead in the race of replacing silicon-based technology as key market players like Samsung and TSMC are already indicating interest in 2D semiconductor circuits.
The team is optimistic that their study will encourage other researchers to explore and investigate more newly discovered semiconductor family members to bring forth new properties even with applications beyond electronics.
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