Graphene is widely regarded as the electronics material of the future, but in an article published over the weekend in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a group from EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) describes how the abundant mineral molybdenite (MoS2) is a very effective semiconductor with advantages over both graphene and silicon. The discovery could allow for transistors that are smaller and orders of magnitude more efficient.
Molybdenite is already used as an additive to lubricants and in some steel alloys, but it previously had not been thoroughly examined for electronic properties. Compared with silicon, the current standard material used in electronics and chip technology, and graphene, molybdenite enjoys some serious selling points.
For one, molybdenite is a two-dimensional material, meaning it is less voluminous than three-dimensional silicon. Electrons can move around as freely in a 0.65-nanometer-thick sheet of molybdenite as they can in a 2-nanometer-thick layer of silicon, ostensibly requiring roughly one third the space to accomplish similar ends. It also possesses an ideal "gap" for turning transistors on and off, meaning a transistor with molybdenite's 1.8 electron-volt gap could consume 100,000 times less energy than its silicon counterpart.
Further, molybdenite contains the necessary band gap needed to control semiconductors' material properties. Electron-free spaces between these "band gaps" that allow certain electrons to leap across lend a greater level of control over a material's electrical properties. Molybdenite has this gap. Graphene does not, making it less-than-ideal for transistor applications
Does this mean our new molybdenite electronics will consume 1/100,000th energy of silicon chips or that graphene (the discovery of which was recognized with a Nobel prize last year) electronics are finished? Absolutely not. But the discovery does show that there's more than one way, or even two ways, to build the transistors of the future. Molybdenite, based on its small volume and high efficiency, could be particularly useful as a component for future nano-electronic devices.
Anyone know how to pronounce molybdenite?
Is the 100,000 times less energy figure exaggerated? That seems incredibly high...
-IMP ;) :)
It's also often referred to as just "moly-b". We use to use it all the time as a lubricant for high-security locks in the Air Force.
I would assume that power for displays, audio and other peripheral parts of a device use more energy that the actual transistors already, so the 1/100,000th, while impressive, is likely a modest gain.
Great news but the article sucks in some areas. Silicon is a semiconducting transistor substrate and not exactly a piece of the transistors main body. Also as that diagram shows there is actually still a silicon an silicon oxide substrate so nothing is really changing we are still making silicon substrate transistors using different transistor material and not different substrate material. If anything they will be using less silicon simply due to the fact that they can pack more on to a smaller space.
While external parts of a system tend to use a lot of power, you might be surprised how much those transistors use. Also, one of the limiting factors in processors now is heat. We can't make the chip smaller because we can't get the heat out fast enough. And if we can't get the heat out we can't make faster chips. This means that if we have 1/100000th the power used then we have to transport that much less heat out of the chip.
Considering Egypt issues, Now would be a good time to start mining this technology for all it is worth. We need to get away from oil that is mostly from unstable countries. It would make several needed jobs with the proper infrastructure The U.S. could be well on it's way to sever the independence on foreign oil. As far as the mining there are ways to rebuild the damage brought by mining. I would like one (giant) Underground city built in the old mine area. Construction crews could follow behind mine crews. Doing this we could have more gardens on the surface with solar cell farms made with this or better technology. With the proper design as to be inviting not slum dog. Oh wait, that would require government to agree to actually accomplish something that would not upset their biggest contributors: Big Corporations, Big Oil :P Just wanting a better place for the future children but, in my lifetime would be nice. Peace out.
terminator here we come!!!