For almost half a century, chipmakers have been finding new ways to switch power on/off. They came up with the digital versions and the zeroes ones that had encoded words, movies, pictures, and several other types of information. However, during this course of time, these innovative people also learned to look beyond silicon and search for new kind of materials that could be as thick as just three atoms. Far thinner than the contemporary versions and way more modern than they already are. Also, these will be capable of controlling power more efficiently as compared to digital ones and zeroes concepts.
A team led by Stanford electrical engineers and an associate professor from same branch, Professor Eric Pop recently showed how such atomically thin materials and electronics can be mass produced. How can this be useful? It is because thin materials like these need to be highly flexible and transparent, these allow creation of those electronic devices that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. LIke Kirby Smithe, a graduate student from this team of innovators, asks, “What if your window was also a television or you could have a heads-up display on the windshield of your car?”
The main objective of this team was to create a manufacturing process that turns single-layer chips into best practical realities. Do you know that the first atomically thin material was scaled in year 2004 when graphene was observed by a team of scientists? He material is pretty close to the lead found in your pencils. This can be isolated into very thin layers that have thickness of a single atom. The recent discovery has been made on account of manufacturing issues by these engineers. They began with a single layer of substance known as molybdenum disulfide which is self-explanatory about its sandwich like structure. The biggest question here was that if the team could make a molybdenum disulfide crystal that is big enough to formulate a chip. The crystal they needed to make had to be roughly size of a thumbnail. They created a sheet through deposition of three atomic layers in a single crystalline structure that was 25 million wider in proportion to its thickness. The process included in this ingenious creation is known as chemical vapor deposition. The concept also includes addition of small quantity of molybdenum and sulfur that incinerates till all atoms vaporize as soot. These atoms then deposit in form of an ultra-thin crystalline layer over a “handle” substance that can be silicon or even glass. But the process didn’t end here; once it was completed it was time for pattern it into switches and develops understanding of the operation. For this purpose, they used advance led by English who found extremely clean deposition conditions that are needed in formation of good metallic contacts with layers of molybdenum disulfide. They are now busy in creation of computer models of these new materials.
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