Carolina State University researchers have developed a technique that
sheds new light
on how silicon
bonds with various other materials at the atomic level.
Kenan Gundogdu, co-author of the study and assistant professor of
physics at North Carolina State University along with Dr. David
Aspnes and Bilal Gokce have created a new method for observing how
silicon bonds with different materials at the atomic level in an
effort to understand and control bond formation at this level. This
could lead to the invention of more efficient microchips and other
devices are built using layers of various materials, and
these materials obtain their distinctive characteristics from the
bonds, which are the chemical interactions between adjacent atoms.
Bonds act as a "glue" that holds atoms together, and has
the ability to determine material characteristics like transparency
are formed as materials come together," said Gundogdu. "We
have influenced the assembly process of silicon crystals by applying
strain during bond formation. Manufacturers know that strain makes a
difference in how bonds form, but up to now there hasn't been much
understanding of how this works on the atomic level."
through the use of optical
spectroscopy, researchers are able to observe what happens when
strain is applied to a
silicon crystal at the atomic level.
of even a small amount of strain in one direction increases the
chemical reactivity of bonds in a certain direction, which in turn
causes structural changes," said Gundogdu. "Up to now,
strain has been applied when devices are made. But by looking at the
effect on the individual atomic bonds, we now know that we can
reactions in a particular direction, which in principle
allows us to be more selective in the manufacturing process."
this new development sheds light on these atomic bonds, Aspnes notes
that further research is needed to "identify the relevant hidden
variables" in order to make silicon-based devices more
study was published in Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences in