Ultra-thin transistors from just 3 atomic layers – Enerzine

German researchers have developed an innovative method based on a nanoscale scanning tip to structure and study two-dimensional semiconductor nanomaterials with the highest precision and in a minimally invasive manner.

A promising alternative to silicon

Although silicon is the most commonly used semiconductor material in the electronics industry, increasing performance requirements require the exploration of new materials. Two-dimensional materials, such as graphene, are attracting particular interest due to their exceptional properties and their potential as ultrathin components for efficient electronics.

However, to fully exploit the potential of these materials, it is essential to develop suitable structuring and functional integration techniques, without altering their intrinsic properties. This is precisely the challenge that researchers from the Technical University of Ilmenau have taken up in their recent work.


A precise and non-invasive approach

The method developed by Ilmenau scientists is based on the use of a nanoscale tip, the radius of which is more than 5,000 times smaller than the diameter of a hair. This tip is guided with extreme precision over the surface of the material, similar to atomic force microscopy.

By applying a voltage between the material and the tip, the latter emits low energy electrons which “bombard» the surface of the sample in a very localized manner, exactly where the two-dimensional material should be structured. The researchers used molybdenum ditelluride flakes (MoTe2), a two-dimensional material a few atomic layers thick, which they oxidized to a water-soluble oxide using electron bombardment and water molecules, and then removed it in a targeted manner.

Controlled tip movement and associated localized oxidation make it possible to create virtually any surface pattern.

Christoph Reuter, second generation doctoral student in the interdisciplinary research group “3D-NanoFab“, explain : ” Through controlled tip movement and associated local oxidation, we were able to create virtually any surface pattern without causing any other measurable changes in the two-dimensional material. »

Promising prospects for green electronics

To demonstrate the potential of their method, the scientists made an ultra-thin transistor from just three atomic layers of MoTe2. This achievement paves the way for further research in areas such as innovative electronics, sensor technology or energy conversion.

Professor Steffen Strehle, spokesperson for the research group and head of microsystems technology at the Technical University of Ilmenau, emphasizes: “ We want to expand our method in the coming years and also use it for applications in the field of ‘green’ and energy-efficient electronics. The results of this research will be directly integrated into the courses of the Technical University of Ilmenau in order to involve students, for example in the mechatronics, mechanical engineering and micro- and nanotechnology programs, in our research work at a early stage. »

This scientific breakthrough, the result of a collaboration between Christoph Reuter, Professor Steffen Strehle and Dr Gernot Ecke, research assistant in the nanotechnology group, was recently published in the prestigious journal “Advanced Materials“.

Reuter C, Ecke G, Strehle S (2024). “Exploring the Surface Oxidation and Environmental Instability of 2H-/1T’-MoTe2 Using Field Emission-Based Scanning Probe Lithography”, Advanced Materials, 36, 2310887 (1-14), https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202310887



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