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Hardware Science Technology

Silicene Discovered: Single-layer Silicon That Could Beat Graphene To Market 67

MrSeb writes "Numerous research groups around the world are reporting that they have created silicene, a one-atom-thick hexagonal mesh of silicon atoms — the silicon equivalent of graphene. You will have heard a lot about graphene, especially with regard to its truly wondrous electrical properties, but it has one rather major problem: It doesn't have a bandgap, which makes it very hard to integrate into existing semiconductor processes. Silicene, on the other hand, is theorized to have excellent electrical properties, while still being compatible with silicon-based electronics (abstract). For now, silicene has only been observed (with a scanning tunneling electron microscope), but the next step is to grow a silicene film on an insulating substrate so that its properties can be properly investigated."
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Silicene Discovered: Single-layer Silicon That Could Beat Graphene To Market

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  • by sirdude ( 578412 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:48PM (#39848333)

    So, Silicene has just been observed for the first time under a scanning tunnel microscope, has had its properties only theoretically proposed, and is hoped to be "as miraculous as Graphene". Nevertheless, the author of the article already believes that it will beat Graphene to the market? Sheesh! Are all headlines nowadays conjured up by a dedicated company full of marketing types?

  • by Sigurd_Fafnersbane ( 674740 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:53PM (#39848399)

    I would be a little concerned that the silicon mono-layer would grow a natural oxide very fast and thus consume the silicon?

    The solution in a HEMT transistor is cool in this respect. It is using an un-doped IV-V semiconductor next to a highly doped layer and excess carriers will form a two-dimensional electron gas at the interface. The carriers will move along the surface of the un-doped semi-conducter that since it is un-doped have better mobility and fewer defects than doped material. It must be something along this property they try to re-create with a silicon mono-layer.

  • Re:Physical Limits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday April 30, 2012 @05:32PM (#39850603) Homepage

    "silicon - a material which will probably reach its physical limits in the next 5-10 years" Haven't they been saying that since 1980?

    Yes, there's been a lot of flawed assumptions but now we're nearing the most fundamental limits. The lattice spacing of silicon is about 0.55nm and the process size usually goes down with a factor about 0.6, so:

    22 nm * 0.6 = 14 nm
    14 nm * 0.6 = 8 nm
    8 nm * 0.6 = 5 nm
    5 nm * 0.6 = 3 nm
    3 nm * 0.6 = 1.8 nm
    1.8 nm * 0.6 = 1.08 nm
    1.08 nm * 0.6 = 0.648 nm

    ...and smaller than this just isn't possible. With Intel's tick-tocks there's two years between ticks so 14 years at that rate. But long before that you can start counting the lattices on your fingers, already at 5nm there's only nine left (9*0.55 = ~5) and that's only 6 years away. So late this decade or next decade at the latest Moore's law is dead.

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson