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Scientists Glimpse Inner Workings of Atomically Thin Transistors

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Visualizing what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device.

Physicists at the University of Texas at Austin have succeeded in visualizing what happens inside a two-dimensional transistor made of a promising new material called molybdenum disulfide.

Credit: UT News

A team of physicists at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) says it has had the first-ever glimpse into molybdenum disulfide, an atomically thin new semiconducting material that would allow for on-off signaling on a single flat plane.

Using two-dimensional (2D) transistors, the team found electrical currents move in a more phased way than in silicon transistors, beginning first at the edges before appearing in the interior.

UT-Austin professor Keji Lai says this suggests the same current could be sent with less power and in an even smaller space, using a one-dimensional edge instead of the two-dimensional plane. He notes this could promote future energy savings in electronic devices.

"In the future, if we can engineer this material very carefully, then these edges can carry the full current," Lai says. "We don't really need the entire thing, because the interior is useless. Just having the edges running to get a current working would substantially reduce the power loss."

Researchers have been trying to learn what happens inside a 2D transistor for years, which is key to understanding the potential uses of the material, which could include paper-thin computers and cellphones.

From UT News
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