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Engineers Discover New Material That Could Lead to Much Faster Electronics

University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor, Ashutosh Tiwari, holds up a substrate layered with a newly discovered 2D material made of tin and oxygen. Tiwari and his team have discovered this new material, tin monoxide, which allows electrical charges to move through it much faster than common 3D material such as silicon. This breakthrough in semiconductor material could lead to much faster computers and mobile devices such as smartphones that also run on less power and with less heat.  (Image:  Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)
University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor, Ashutosh Tiwari, holds up a substrate layered with a newly discovered 2D material made of tin and oxygen. Tiwari and his team have discovered this new material, tin monoxide, which allows electrical charges to move through it much faster than common 3D material such as silicon. This breakthrough in semiconductor material could lead to much faster computers and mobile devices such as smartphones that also run on less power and with less heat. (Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

Engineers have just discovered a new kind of semiconducting material for electronics, which may lead to faster processing in computers and smartphones, and will also consume less power.

The 2D semiconductor is made up of the elements tin and oxygen, or tin monoxide (SnO). Because it is only one atom thick, electrical charges move through it at much higher speeds than the conventional 3D materials.

According to the University of Utah, the material could be used in transistors, which is the main component of all electronic devices; this includes computer processors, graphics processors, and mobile devices.

Current transistors and other components that electronic devices use are made up of 3D materials like silicon, and consist of multiple layers on a glass substrate. The problem with this is the electrons bounce around inside the layers in all directions, the University explains.

University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor Ashutosh Tiwari holds up a substrate layered with a newly discovered 2D material made of tin and oxygen. Tiwari and his team have discovered this new material, tin monoxide, which allows electrical charges to move through it much faster than common 3D material such as silicon. This breakthrough in semiconductor material could lead to much faster computers and mobile devices such as smartphones that also run on less power and with less heat. (Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor, Ashutosh Tiwari, holds up a substrate layered with a newly discovered 2D material made of tin and oxygen. Tiwari and his team have discovered this new material, tin monoxide, which allows electrical charges to move through it much faster than common 3D material such as silicon. This breakthrough in semiconductor material could lead to much faster computers and mobile devices such as smartphones that also run on less power and with less heat. (Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

However, with the 2D materials they are made of one layer with the thickness of just one or two atoms. Therefore, the electrons “can only move in one layer so it’s much faster,” says Associate professor Ashutosh Tiwari, from University of Utah materials science and engineering, who led the team.

While other researchers have discovered new types of 2D material such as graphene, molybdenun disulfide, and borophene, these are materials that only allow the movement of N-type (negative) electrons.

However, electronic devices need a semiconductor material that allows both negative electrons and positive charges known as “holes” to move. The tin monoxide material that was discovered by Tiwari and his team is the first stable P-type 2D semiconductor material ever in existence.

Tiwari said:

The University believes this discovery can lead to transistors that are smaller and faster than those in use today. A computer processor is comprised of billions of transistors, and the more transistors packed into a single chip, the more powerful the processor can become.

University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor Ashutosh Tiwari stands in his lab where he and his team have discovered a new 2D semiconducting material made of tin and oxygen. This new material allows electrical charges to move through it much faster than common 3D material such as silicon. This breakthrough in semiconductor material could lead to much faster computers and mobile devices such as smartphones that also run on less power and with less heat. (Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor, Ashutosh Tiwari, stands in his lab where he and his team have discovered a new 2D semiconducting material made of tin and oxygen.  (Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

The University writes:

Tiwari believes that with so much interest in this field it will only take a few years before we see a prototype. “The field is very hot right now, and people are very interested in it, so in two or three years we should see at least some prototype device,” he said.

A paper describing the research was published in the journal, Advanced Electronic Materials.

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