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Redesigned Material Could Lead to Lighter, Faster Electronics

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The element germanium in its natural state.

Researchers at The Ohio State University have developed a technique for making one-atom-thick sheets of germanium for eventual use in electronics.

Credit: Joshua Goldberger/The Ohio State University

Ohio State University (OSU) researchers developed a method for making a one-atom-thick sheet of germanium and found that it conducts electrons more than 10 times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium.

"We’ve been searching for unique forms of silicon and germanium with advantageous properties, to get the benefits of a new material but with less cost and using existing technology," says OSU professor Joshua Goldberger.

The researchers created multi-layered germanium crystals with calcium atoms wedged between the layers. They then dissolved away the calcium with water and filled the empty chemical bonds that were left behind with hydrogen; this process enabled the researchers to peel off individual layers of germanane. Germanane is more chemically stable than traditional silicon because it will not oxidize in air and water, which makes it compatible with using conventional chip-manufacturing techniques.

The researchers also note that germanane has a direct band gap, which means that light is easily absorbed. "A material with a direct band gap can do the same job with a piece of material 100 times thinner," Goldberger says.

From OSU News
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