The year 2016 viewed the global semiconductor sales reaching new heights with a sales record of $39 billion across the world. During the same year, this particular industry also spent approx. $7.2 billion USD on wafers that act as substrates for all kind of microelectronics components that can be turned into light-emitting diodes, transistors, and every other kind of photonic and electronic equipment. Recently, a team of MIT engineers came up with a very simple solution for the high prices of semiconductor wafers, this new technology will not only reduce the average cost of wafer technology but will also allow these devices to have better-performing, and highly exotic semiconductor materials as compared to traditional silicon.
This new technology involves usage of graphene as a xerox copy machine for transfer of complicated crystalline patterns from an existing semiconductor to a similar kind of top layer material. This team was able to come up with a some very precisely controlled processes that can place single graphene sheets of graphene over some costly wafers. Then, they were able to grow semiconducting material over graphene later. They discovered that graphene is so thin that it can appear electrically invisible easily, this allows the top layer to see through graphene upto underlying crystalline wafer, this imprints the patterns without getting influenced by graphene.
Graphene is also known for being quite “slippery” and never intends to stick with any other materials instantly, this allows the engineers to peel off the top semiconducting layer easily from the water once the structures have been imprinted. Jeehwan Kim, an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering and material science and engineering department,adds that , “You end up having to sacrifice the wafer—it becomes part of the device, The industry has been stuck on silicon, and even though we've known about better performing semiconductors, we haven't been able to use them, because of their cost. This gives the industry freedom in choosing semiconductor materials by performance and not cost."