By Suzanne Deffree, Managing Editor, news -- EDN, February 2, 2011
Molybdenite is being described as being better than silicon and graphene for electronics with such advantages as 100,000-times less energy consumption by transistors in standby state than traditional silicon transistors.
A material called molybdenite is being touted by researchers as having distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics.
Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite, or MoS2, according to researchers at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).
The mineral is abundant in nature and can be found through drilling in Mexico, as well as the United States and other countries. Molybdenite is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants, but it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics.
“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, LEDs (light-emitting diodes), and solar cells,” EPFL Professor Andras Kis said in a statement.
According to EPFL, one of molybdenite’s advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, a three-dimensional material. “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,” Kis said. “But it’s not currently possible to fabricate a sheet of silicon as thin as a monolayer sheet of MoS2.”
Another claimed advantage of molybdenite is that it can be used to make transistors that consume 100,000-times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors. The researchers noted that a semiconductor with a “gap” must be used to turn a transistor on and off. Molybdenite’s 1.8 electron-volt gap is ideal for this purpose, they said.
The existence of this gap in molybdenite also gives it an advantage over graphene, the researchers said. They pointed out that graphene does not have a gap and that it is very difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material.
EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures discussed the research in a January 30, article appearing online in the journal .