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Unexpected Semiconductor Properties Revealed by Innovative New Tool

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A scanning transmission electron micrograph of the interface between germanium (bottom) and LSZTO (top).

Credit: Scott Chambers/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

A team of researchers investigating the properties of a semiconductor combined with a new thin oxide sheet discovered an unexpected new source of conductivity from oxygen atoms trapped within.

Scott Chambers, a materials scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, revealed the team's findings at the American Physical Society's Spring 2022 meeting. The study's findings are detailed in the journal Physical Review Materials.

The finding has far-reaching implications for understanding the function of thin oxide films in future semiconductor design and manufacturing. Specifically, semiconductors utilized in modern electronics are classified into two basic types: n-type and p-type, depending on the electronic impurity introduced during crystal formation. Both n- and p-type silicon-based materials are used in modern electronic devices. However, there is ongoing interest in the development of new types of semiconductors. Chambers and his colleagues were experimenting with germanium in conjunction with a thin crystalline layer of lanthanum-strontium-zirconium-titanium-oxide (LSZTO).

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