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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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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.

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

Benito Mussolini

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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