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University of Utah engineers discover new 2D semiconducting material

At the University of Utah, engineers have discovered a new 2D semiconducting material for electronics.

The material, they say, will make for faster computers and smartphones that will not consume hefty amounts of power despite their robust speeds.

The semiconductors are made of tin monoxide, with a layer of 2D material that is only one atom thick. This means the semiconductor allows electrical charges to move through it faster than 3D materials such as silicon.

A team headed by University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor Ashutosh Tiwari made the discovery and described the research in a February 2016 paper co-authored by University of Utah materials science and engineering doctoral students K. J. Saji and Kun Tian, and Michael Snure of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Lab near Dayton, Ohio.

With 3D materials, electrons can bounce around in the layers in various directions. More traditional semiconductor materials like quartz wafers and synthetic quartz wafers/substrates work well for their purposes, but many researchers have been looking to 2D materials to address some of the issues 3D materials present.

With 2D materials electrons are stuck to one layer reducing the movement and increasing speed.

Tin monoxide is the first 2D material for a semiconductor that allows negative electrons and positive charges to move.

Tiwari noted that things will move forward more quickly with manufacturing transistors that could be used to make products that operate 100 times faster than current devices. These devices will require less power to function, meaning battery operated devices could last longer without requiring a new charge.

The semiconductor material has potential in various industries from design and manufacturing of computers and smartphones, to medical devices that require semiconductors to function.

The team expects a prototype of a product using the new 2D semiconducting material could launch in two to three years.

This is just one major discovery in a field that is rapidly expanding with new innovation, research and development. The semiconductor field is taking off as industries realize just how important these devices are to nearly every aspect of a modern, connected life. As time goes on, you can expect to see even greater advances in semiconductors and semiconducting material, leading to fast, powerful devices that require less power to run, becoming generally more robust and reliable compared to today’s devices powered by semiconductors.