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Molybdenite, a common mineral, may produce better transistors than silicon.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The key to the success of the material is it's 2D structure, which limits lost current when the transistor is in standby. The material also has a band gap, making it easily applicable to the creation of transistors.  (Source: Nature Nanotechnology/EPFL)

Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Europe's top engineering college, have created a MoS4 transistor, which they say could hold the key to future electronic devices.  (Source: EPFL)
Molybdenite is commonly occurring in nature, could it spark a future era of supercomputing

As scientists ponder on how to increase computing power past the theoretical limitations of optical die shrinks, one focus is on developing new materials that are more efficient than traditional silicon-based circuit semiconductor blends.  The 2004 discovery of graphene -- a highly conductive 2D carbon sheet -- earned its discoverers, University of Manchester physicists André Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, a 2010 Nobel Prize in physics.  Now, even as scientists are working to incorporate graphene into transistors, others are pondering on what's the next super-efficient semiconducting material.

Researchers at the Europe's top engineering college, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne(EPFL), claim to have that question answered.

Located in Switzerland, the EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) has published preliminary results on circuits composed of molybdenite (MoS2), a commonly occurring mineral that has thus far received little attention as a semiconductor.

Molybdenite looks similar to mica and is often found with quartz deposits.  Its current uses include steel alloy blends and industrial lubricants.

What the EPFL team discovered was that molybdenite is also an excellent semiconductor with a 1.8 electron-volt gap.  The highly 2D naturally occurring structure of the material makes it more efficient electrically than silicon, this could result in a reduction in standby mode losses by as much as a 10^5.  

States [press release] EPFL Professor Andras Kis [profile], "It's a two-dimensional material, very thin and easy to use in nanotechnology. It has real potential in the fabrication of very small transistors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and solar cells. In a 0.65-nanometer-thick sheet of MoS2, the electrons can move around as easily as in a 2-nanometer-thick sheet of silicon."

He continues, "But it's not currently possible to fabricate a sheet of silicon as thin as a monolayer sheet of MoS2."

Molybdenite's properties and advantages largely fall in line with those of graphene.  However, graphene does not occur naturally and still relies on relatively expensive production processes.

Graphene, additionally, doesn't have a band gap, as it is a semi-metal.  Graphene transistors have been created by carefully lining up atoms into a graphene sheet/row, but these transistors would likely be less efficient than band-gap designs.

Three other EPFL researchers -- B. Radisavljevic [profile], Professor Radenovic [profile], and M. Brivio  -- assisted on the project.  The work has been published [abstract] in the top peer-reviewed nanotechnology-specific journal, Nature Nanotechnology.



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Is this capable of CMOS chips?
By DanNeely on 1/31/2011 3:27:47 PM , Rating: 5
I ask because there are a number of semiconductors that can only make N-Type or P-Type transistors but not both. Materials like Gallium Arsenide, or Gallium Nitride which can only make a single type of transistor are great for solar panels, power management, and RF uses; but because CMOS is needed to make power efficient logic gates are useless for replacing silicon in our ram/cpu/etc.




It's gonna be confusing!
By kaborka on 1/31/2011 3:08:47 PM , Rating: 2
...to differentiate between MOS (Metal Oxide Semiconductor) and Molybdenite (MoS2). I guess the "2" will help. MOSFET vs. MoS2FET???




RE: It's gonna be confusing!
By Kiffberet on 2/1/2011 8:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
Molybdenite (MoS2) is comprised of 1 atom of Molybdinum (Mo) and 2 Sulphur (S) atoms.


Band gap is higher
By Shadowself on 1/31/2011 5:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
The band gap is more than 50% higher than that of silicon. Thus the switching power will be more than double that of silicon for active components. However, they claim the quiescent state will require *much* less power.

Maybe it will all balance out. Maybe not.

It will be interesting to find out.




RE: Band gap is higher
By Mint on 2/1/2011 10:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
The voltage needed to charge/discharge the gate can be tuned with doping and biasing of the substrate. That's not a big issue, AFAIK.

I think the key advantage here is that MoS2 has a higher mobility than silicon, but I assume it's just electron mobility. As another poster mentioned, though, you need hole mobility as well to have a good CMOS process, and I don't know about that here.


Two fold impact
By FITCamaro on 1/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: Two fold impact
By mkrech on 1/31/2011 4:48:29 PM , Rating: 4
Oh please. Just imagine, a moronic Skynet trying to take over the world by creating a socialistic new world idiocracy.

;)


RE: Two fold impact
By YashBudini on 2/3/2011 7:33:30 PM , Rating: 1
How odd you said that, looking at the stuff I realized the CPU from the Terminator was made with this.

If you really want to upset Fit make transistors out of beer. He'll lose it totally.


RE: Two fold impact
By PrinceGaz on 1/31/2011 4:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
I know you're joking, but for anyone who doesn't realise that; the quantity needed to make said chips would be tiny compared with what is used for other purposes. That's the whole point of this development-- ever smaller chips, which whilst made in their millions or even billions don't really amount to much compared with heavy industrial manufacturing.


RE: Two fold impact
By NanoTube1 on 1/31/2011 7:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
xD

FITCamaro 1, liberals 0


RE: Two fold impact
By Kiffberet on 2/1/11, Rating: -1
RE: Two fold impact
By FITCamaro on 2/1/2011 12:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and all it takes is the government having the right to take over 50% of your income. And giving out certain punishments based on income like speeding tickets. Sorry I prefer a free society where people can rise and fall on their own merits. Not one where it doesn't matter how much of a failure you are at life, you still get everything you need and want.

Remind me again of how friendly Sweden and Norway are to businesses?

Also Sweden has a population the size of New York city. It can hardly be compared to a country the size and scope of America. They don't have vast differences in geography, climate, etc as we do. Norway is the same way except with half the population of even Sweden.

And they are running deficits as well.


RE: Two fold impact
By Shadowmaster625 on 2/1/2011 3:23:20 PM , Rating: 2
You are a self professed "liberal basher". You yourself are probably a "liberal" who doesnt even know it, because he is too stupid to know what these terms actually mean. You must listen to Limbaugh or Beck or some other "right wing" control element of this corrupt system which is making you even dumber by the hour. At any rate, the tax rate in the US is actually higher than it is in "socialist havens" such as Sweden. Currency devaluation is a tax. Printing money and giving it to the big banks is the same thing as taxing your income. If the total money supply doubles, then whatever pile of money you had is worth only half. Further, when you pay taxes in a country that isnt run by criminal banksters, you actually do get something for that money even if it is distributed via a european socialist paradigm. Here in the US, we sacrifice over 20% of our GDP to wall street parasites. Each year and every year. On top of that you have the military industrial complex siphoning away at least 25% of GDP, in what is undeniably the biggest socialist nightmare ever constructed or conceived in all of human existence. A proud product of propagandized fools who literally believe and think the exact orwellian opposite of reality. And on top of all that we have big pharma, big agra, big education, and the penal system. These four combine to siphon away another 25% of GDP in what can only been seen as a near total waste that does next to nothing for the average person except significantly lower their quality of life. Compared to all that, the actual rate of tax you pay matters very little. But there will always be fools running around parroting the shallow lies of a corrupt system in its death throws.


RE: Two fold impact
By YashBudini on 2/3/2011 7:36:52 PM , Rating: 1
Examine the comment below and then you will know what he is. Being pro-corporate is all he knows.

quote:
Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.

Benito Mussolini


RE: Two fold impact
By FaaR on 2/2/2011 2:22:51 AM , Rating: 2
Norway has no deficit (worth mentioning anyway.) Nor does it have any debt. Rather, it has untold billions squirreled away in its oil export income funds.

Sweden has deficit and debt, but is still one of the best managed economies on the planet. Certainly it is in a far better financial state than the United States, with its runaway deficit and debt, most of which was caused by George Dubya .

So Socialism scores two:nil to your clueless ranting about "freedom" and other nonsense.


RE: Two fold impact
By YashBudini on 2/3/2011 7:30:08 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yes and all it takes is the government having the right to take over 50% of your income.


Yeah we have a swell alternative. Wall St scum destroys your property value, your 401K, your job, and Halliburton gets blanks checks. Of course they don't affect you much because in your little world $14/hour is big big money. Hell you can't even drink beer that fast, so obviously life is still perfect for you.

Ah yeah, that business about the literacy rate, is there anybody out there who could care less than you about it?

Your socialist xenophobia is turning the US into a banana republic.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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