Researchers from Cornell University have announced a breakthrough in transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) production that could lead to much thinner transistors, the building block for faster, smaller and more power efficient processors. At just three atoms thick, and with yield rates better than any other ultra-thin transistor, these new transistors could be used in next-generation ultra-thin devices. Their paper published in Nature, “High-mobility three-atom-thick semiconducting films with wafer-scale homogeneity”.
TMDs are exciting because they are very thin, usually appearing as films of just a few atoms, with properties that make them useful for building solar cells, light detectors, or semi-conductors. It’s an exciting prospect for physicists and manufacturers alike, but making the materials work consistently has proved extremely difficult. Highly conductive TMD films can be produced which measure just three atoms thick, but the issue is that they are easy to break and suffer from high failure rates.
This is where the breakthrough comes in, as researchers from Cornell have managed to produce a new industrial technique known as “metal organic chemical vapor deposition” (MOCVD). The technique mixes diethylsulfide and a metal hexacarbonyl compound atop a silicon wafer and then bakes them at 550 degrees for 26 hours in hydrogen gas. This method has been tested on a batch of 200 wafers and only two of them were faulty, which is a 99 percent success rate and a promising sign for this process.
Saien Xie, one of the lead authors for the research paper, says
Our work pushes TMDs to the technologically relevant scale, showing the promise of making devices on that scale,(…)In principle there is no barrier toward.
The team wants to continue to streamline the manufacturing process and ensure TMDs can be produced consistently before thinking about their implementation in cutting-edge devices.
See the video below if you want to know more about TMDs.