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New Technique May Open ­p an Era of Atomic-Scale Semiconductor Devices

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Image of an atom.

A new technique for creating semiconductor films one atom thick could be used to create thin films on a large scale.

Credit: Suvi Bowellan

A team at North Carolina State University (NCSU) has developed a technique for creating high-quality semiconductor thin films only one atom thick. The technique could be used to create thin films on a large scale, sufficient to coat wafers that are two inches wide or larger.

"This could be used to scale current semiconductor technologies down to the atomic scale--lasers, light-emitting diodes, computer chips, anything," says NCSU professor Linyou Cao.

The researchers used molybdenum sulfide (MoS2), which is different from other semiconductor materials because it can be grown in layers only one atom thick without compromising its properties. The team vaporized sulfur and molybdenum chloride powders in a furnace at 850 degrees Celsius. The two substances formed MoS2, and then the vapor was deposited in a thin layer onto the substrate. Precise control of the thickness of the MoS2 layer was achieved by controlling the partial and vapor pressure in the furnace.

"The key to our success is the development of a new growth mechanism, a self-limiting growth," Cao says.

From NCSU News
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