Jumping from 14nm down to 0.3nm

A high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) image shows the lattice structure of the heterojunctions in atomic precision. Credit: University of Warwick

Intel is about to deliver its new chip generation at 14nm. And researchers at the Washington University have developed what is by far the smallest electronic junction ever, consisting of just 3 atoms, that is 3 Angstrom, or something 100,000 times smaller (you need to make the comparison in the 3D space...).

They have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to create heterojunction e (structure composed by different materials) using 2 dimensional layers (layers just one atom thick). Heterojunctions are a fundamental component of all electronics and optoelectronics devices (a transistor is a heterojunction NPN or PNP for the engineers among you) and proving the availability of creating heterojunction in this way is an important step.

In a collaboration with researchers at the University of Warwick in UK showed that the material developed has a shape of a honeycomb, see photo.

With the prototype developed they have already shown that the heterojunction is much more effective in capturing light, which makes it an interesting candidate for better solar cells.

As we move down to the atomic level we can exploit quantum properties that are masked at larger dimensions.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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