×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Scientists Craft Seamless 2D Semiconductor Junctions

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the flat-is-in dept.

Hardware 49

vinces99 (2792707) writes Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. The University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless fashion known as a heterojunction. This result could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing, better light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and solar technologies.

"Heterojunctions are fundamental elements of electronic and photonic devices," said senior author Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering and of physics. "Our experimental demonstration of such junctions between two-dimensional materials should enable new kinds of transistors, LEDs, nanolasers, and solar cells to be developed for highly integrated electronic and optical circuits within a single atomic plane."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

But can you do it fast and cheap? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47766787)

That seems to be the pervading problem with nanoscale [X] is that the creation process seems to require an expert with sophisticated instruments manually controlling manipulation tools like lasers to arrange the circuits. It's probably something that could be automated.

Is there any sort of tech in progress that addresses that problem?

Re:But can you do it fast and cheap? (2)

Gliscameria (2759171) | about 4 months ago | (#47766873)

There's really not anything out there to handle mass production at this scale, but that's the best part; once you show that it can be done at a small scale, tons of resources come pouring in and generally they figure it out. The chip and solar technology right now is geared for a completely different type of production, so even this technology is amazing, it's got a lot of inertia to fight and would probably be 'born' at a startup, after a lot of failures.

Re:But can you do it fast and cheap? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47767959)

Wouldn't semiconductor components on this scale be greatly sensitive to material degradation issues? You don't need much to go wrong for a device like this to stop working.

Re:But can you do it fast and cheap? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#47772043)

They just need to make it last until the warranty period runs out. Or rather, make the warranty period shorter than the expected failure date.

Hell, the user flexed it too much anyway.

Two dimensional? (1, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47766881)

If a 2 dimensional sheet has a thickness, in this case 3 atoms, does not that make it a very thin 3 dimensional object?

Two dimensional? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767037)

Nope. It's common knowledge that 2D fab (which uses little circles as opposed to spherical atoms) is much cheaper than 3D. It just hasn't gained market visibility yet, since almost everything has always used 3D based techniques.

Though the insurance rates are higher because of what the companies describe as "very sharp edges."

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 4 months ago | (#47767195)

You should really read before replying. He was pointing out that since atoms have thickness, 2D is technically impossible.

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47767703)

Whoosh.

Re:Two dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47772293)

You win the Internet.

Re:Two dimensional? (3, Informative)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 4 months ago | (#47767911)

"Nope. It's common knowledge that 2D fab (which uses little circles as opposed to spherical atoms) is much cheaper than 3D."

I wouldn't trust anything made on circular-atom technology these days. The only factories that still make the little electron-dots for them are all in dodgy neighborhoods in China, and half the time once delivered they turn out to just be a few photons glued together and painted black...

Re:Two dimensional? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47767053)

For sufficiently small values of 3 dimensions, it effectively becomes 2 dimensions. ;-)

So, when you draw a line on paper, it's a line on a plane, even though the ink has some depth to it and the paper has a surface which isn't completely flat under a microscope.

Or, something like that.

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47767345)

So, when you draw a line on paper, it's a line on a plane,...

No, it is a representation of a line on a plane using the tools we have. The ink has depth and width so it is only a representation of a one dimensional objects. We live in a 3 dimensional world any solid objects existing in this world has 3 dimensions.

Can the two dimensional sheet pass through a gap that is 2 atoms wide? No since it is 3 atoms thick and therefore three dimensional.

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47767469)

While your pedantry skills are excellent, and your mathematical skills are pretty good ... I think you need to have your humor unit recalibrated, you seem to be a little out of phase.

I am perfectly aware of the fact that it isn't really a line on a plane in a strict mathematical sense ... heck, I even referenced the thickness of the ink and the fact that the paper has a surface.

Let me draw you a diagram _________________ ;-)

Now, what is the depth (stated in microns / femptofortnight) of the above line?

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47767713)

I think you need to have your humor unit recalibrated

Humor has nothing to do with the incorrect definition of the number of dimensions of an object. I don't see any references to humor in the article.

Let me draw you a diagram _________________

That is a two dimensional non-solid object since is has a height, one pixel, and a width, more than one pixel.

Re:Two dimensional? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47767945)

Humor has nothing to do with the incorrect definition of the number of dimensions of an object.

Which is why I mentioned your pedantry.

Let me draw you a diagram _________________

That is a two dimensional non-solid object since is has a height, one pixel, and a width, more than one pixel.

In fact, since it's drawn with electrons, it's got depth too. Actually, since it's drawn as pixels on your screen, which by now are probably discrete LED components, it's much more than that.

It's a signal which causes a series of diodes to emit a color which your eyes perceive as a straight black line -- in reality, it's none of those things either.

Look, you can be as pedantic, reductionist, and anal retentive about this as you like .. it's not contributing anything to this.

For purpose of explaining this and discussing it, they defined a plane in terms of this sheet of atoms with this particular layout.

That's it. There's no mathematical chicanery going on, and everybody knows it's not, strictly speaking, either a plane or a 2D structure. But it's got some characteristics of a plane, and, for purposes of discussion, is being treated as a 2D structure.

Because, if they had to say this 3-atom thick sheet of interlocking atoms which demonstrates some characteristics of planarity, and allow us to connect them together while maintaining the same type of planarity it would get awfully tedious.

In reality, it's probably not much different than LEGO.

Seriously, get over it. It's almost impossible to discuss this kind of thing without it turning into a tongue twister unless you come up with some form of metaphor.

The rest of this ... it's purely bullshit and pedantry by anal retentive people who need to demonstrate they remember something from math class.

Yes, excellent, from a mathematical perspective it's not 2D. But, for purposes of discussion of these material properties, they're calling it a plane.

Re:Two dimensional? (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47768289)

When metaphor gets into science then the science becomes inexact. Even if in most cases the material acts like a plane there might be other cases in which it does not act like a plane. If we always treat it like a plane then we assume things will work one way when they might not and we will come to incorrect conclusions.

Being pedantic is what science is all about. Close enough is not exact.

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

alva_edison (630431) | about 4 months ago | (#47767845)

Microns / femptofortnight is a speed. Or, if time is interpreted as a dimension, a dimensionless value like a dozen or a mole.
2.76E-6 i [goo.gl]

Of course since it's dimensionless, then that means it isn't a dimension, therefore the line is 2D.

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

jc42 (318812) | about 4 months ago | (#47771883)

... We live in a 3 dimensional world any solid objects existing in this world has 3 dimensions>

Or, as some physicists like to argue, we actually live in an 11-dimensional space, but in 8 of them, the universe is only one particle or so thick, so we can usually get away with pretending that we're living in a 3-dimensional world.

(And that's ignoring the time dimension of it all. Lessee; how many of those are there? ;-)

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 4 months ago | (#47767401)

For sufficiently small values of 3 dimensions, it effectively becomes 2 dimensions. ;-)

So, when you draw a line on paper, it's a line on a plane, even though the ink has some depth to it and the paper has a surface which isn't completely flat under a microscope.

Or, something like that.

But what you are drawing is only a representation of a line on a plane, not the actual line on a plane. If all of these 2-dimensional sheets were stacked on top of each other, would they still be 2D? If not, then technically, they aren't 2D to begin with. You would think that scientists would be more accurate with their articulation of complex concepts.

Re:Two dimensional? (3, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47767553)

You would think that scientists would be more accurate with their articulation of complex concepts.

Well, apparently they've defined a plane to be 3 atoms thick, and have grossly understimated the collective anal retentiveness of the people reading the article.

Dude, seriously, it's a dumbed down metaphor written for a press release.

From the parts of the paper [nature.com] which are available without subscription:

The junctions, grown by lateral heteroepitaxy using physical vapour transport7, are visible in an optical microscope and show enhanced photoluminescence. Atomically resolved transmission electron microscopy reveals that their structure is an undistorted honeycomb lattice in which substitution of one transition metal by another occurs across the interface.

I'm quite sure they're not idiots who really think this is a freakin' 2D plane.

TFA isn't the actual scientific paper, it's the press release intended for the public.

Now, unclench a little, you're gonna hurt yourself. :-P

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

MattskEE (925706) | about 4 months ago | (#47770605)

I'm quite sure they're not idiots who really think this is a freakin' 2D plane.

Not to be pedantic, but from the same paper abstract but two sentences ahead of what you quoted:

Creating analogous heterojunctions between different 2D semiconductors would enable band engineering within the 2D plane

Which shows that they describe the full device including multiple atomic layers as a 2D plane.

Now the researchers obviously know that this is not a 2D device, in the same way that graphene researchers know that graphene is not 2D (put a gate dielectric and a gate on it and you have a very much 3D transistor). Except at least in graphene the transport is 2D, for the device is this paper there is vertical transport as well. These researchers are simply jumping on the "2D" buzzword bandwagon because it's a hot research topic.

I happen to dislike a lot of what the 2D folks are claiming in the media because they tend to make very hyped claims about their device performance. And most people understand that 2D materials are not really enablers for flexible electronics or transparent electronics because you can take humble silicon or other semiconductors down to similar thicknesses and achieve similar flexibility and transparency. Or you can make a really tiny silicon device that doesn't need to be flexible even when mounted on a flexible board. Flexible electronics is really all about packaging and interconnect (not to mention a killer app).

Re:Two dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767371)

They really only care about those degrees of freedom, so 2D still makes sense in material science even if it doesn't precisely match up with a geometric definition. Unlike, say, a silicon boule or a diamond, two dimensional crystals, like graphene, cannot grow "up" and "down". 3 layers of different 2 dimensional crystals is 2D "enough" for material science.

Re:Two dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47770011)

Most likely the 2D-ness is referring to the plane where the action is, more specifically how the currents and electrical fields are oriented. If all of these are in the plane, it would qualify as a 2D object. Unfortunately, that is not so very clear from TFA (at least for me). 3 jig-saw puzzle is also a 3D object -like enerything, actually- but no one would consider this to be a 3D problem. Except toddlers.

Re: Two dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47770161)

While the junction itself (as well as yes, every object down to atoms) is 3D, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be thought of as 3D. Electron behaviour can be constrained so that it behaves literally as a 2D entity, not just a thin 3D layer, but genuine two dimensional. The traditional example is in Gallium Arsenide/Aluminium Ga As heterojunctions.

For a further primer, please see Kittel, C. "Introduction to Solid State Physics" John Wiley & Sons, 2005

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 4 months ago | (#47771511)

2D has a special meaning when is comes to materials science. It means something like "as thin as it can possibly be and still be the material".

Re:Two dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47772819)

Or did you mean it has a special meaning to the press trying to describe material science?

Re:Two dimensional? (1)

whit3 (318913) | about 4 months ago | (#47780391)

It's possible to make a lot of approximations, and some of them depend on the dimensionality.
Three atoms thick is close enough to two dimensional that a lot of the (quantum mechanical)
calculations ARE 2-D.
So, the distinction makes sense (and there's precedent in so-called quantum dot structures)
to call this two-dimensional.

Alas, I'm unsure how one would create such a thing
and keep it intact for a substantial service life with an oxygen atmosphere around.

2d? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47766911)

We should build marvelous cutting devices out of these semiconductors.

Car analogy? (0)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#47766937)

Can someone explain this to me with a car analogy?

Re:Car analogy? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47767027)

Can someone explain this to me with a car analogy?

Imagine your car is exactly as tall as your trailer hitch and your trailer, and once connected it's indistinguishable where your car ends and the trailer begins.

Re:Car analogy? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 4 months ago | (#47767103)

Yes. Imagine a Compact Car [wikipedia.org] , only much shorter and only three atoms long.

Could be the basis for bla bla bla bla... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#47766945)

Always the same crappy non-journalism. There is not going to be any silver bullets or any miracle-material. Have people learned nothing?

Re:Could be the basis for bla bla bla bla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767183)

Writes the guy using a miracle of microelectronics he takes for granted to type his little missive.

Re:Could be the basis for bla bla bla bla... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#47770989)

Well, AC, you are just as stupid as ever. It took a century or more of baby-steps to get there, not counting about 3000 years of fundamental mathematical research.

2D atoms (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 months ago | (#47766949)

Where did they get the 2D atoms from?

Re:2D atoms (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 4 months ago | (#47767231)

They took a photo of 3D atoms and printed it out... making them 2D... (grin)

I thought... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47766989)

I though HeteroJunction was the only straight bar in the Castro.

"Heterojunction"?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767003)

Bigots! What about homojunctions? You know, like the human centipede...

Now me, I want PetticoatJunctions... Yeah baby!

Only possible because (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767025)

homojunctions are being discriminated against.

Can stuff this small work in the real world? (1)

Nkwe (604125) | about 4 months ago | (#47767399)

I am curious as to if a conductor that is only a couple of atoms "thick" can be practical in the real world. Normal conductors can withstand all sorts of abuse as they have a large number of atoms and can afford to have a significant percentage of those atoms moved, removed, converted (reacted with), etc. If you have a conductor that is only three atoms thick, each atom is going to count. How do you prevent just one of those atoms from being dialoged due to mechanical stresses, chemical interaction, cosmic rays, or whatever? Does this require that these conductors be sealed at an atomic level in a vacuum or other inert container and is this feasible?

Something the submission didn't mention (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 4 months ago | (#47767611)

My first thought was 'really fast transistors, and indeed the article preview refers to 'high-speed transistors'. I wonder how fast they are, and how easy it would be to parallell them to gain higher power without sacrificing too much speed; too bad it would cost me $32 to find out... Anyway, this development could lead to faster logic and microprocessors, or even just faster and more efficient switching transistors for power supplies and the like. They might even be good for THz amplification. Any thought that this might extend the validity of Moore's Law?

Re:Something the submission didn't mention (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 4 months ago | (#47768559)

"Any thought that this might extend the validity of Moore's Law?"

No, but now that you ask, it would actually make Moore's law invalid:

"Moore's law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years."

Once a transistor is as small as possible, it makes doubling them in the same area rather problematic :-)

"better light-emitting diodes, or LEDs" (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 4 months ago | (#47767905)

Thank god for Slashdot.

brine shrimp with (1)

Captain Arr Morgan (958312) | about 4 months ago | (#47768071)

LASERS!

Re:brine shrimp with (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47769485)

Forget sea monkeys; how about water bears (tardigrades)?

Re:brine shrimp with (1)

Captain Arr Morgan (958312) | about 4 months ago | (#47769543)

bears.... vs monkeys!

mZod uP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47768165)

Worst name for a bar. Ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47768851)

Welcome to the Heterojunction, where we got both kinds of music, country and western...

flexible and transparent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47772313)

Are NEVER going to happen. It's absurd. Even more, it's USELESS.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?