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World’s Thinnest Silicon Transistors May Create Super-Fast Computers

silicene transistors

Researchers have made the first transistors from silicene, the thinnest silicon material in the world, which holds promise for building much faster and smaller computer chips.

The silicene transistors are made of a one-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms. The material had previously been shown to have excellent electrical properties, but it was too hard to produce and work with until now. Despite its promise, silicene is difficult to work with because it’s complex and instable when exposed to air.

The researchers developed a method for making silicene that reduces its exposure to air. The team allowed a hot vapor of silicon atoms to condense onto a crystalline block of silver in a vacuum chamber, then formed the sheet of silicene on a layer of silver before adding a nanometer-thick layer of alumina. With these protective layers in place, the sheet could be peeled off the base and transferred silver-side-up to an oxidized-silicon substrate, the University of Texas reported.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Deji Akinwande” author_title=”Lead researcher”]

Apart from introducing a new player in the playground of 2-D materials, silicene, with its close chemical affinity to silicon, suggests an opportunity in the road map of the semiconductor industry. The major breakthrough here is the efficient low-temperature manufacturing and fabrication of silicene devices for the first time.


Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering solved a major challenge of working with silicene by showing that it could be made into transistors, which are semiconductor devices that amplify and switch electronic signals and power. While not yet ready for production, researchers say it’s an important step toward a viable, high-speed computer chip, according to Voice of America.

Man-made silicene was only theoretical until a few years ago, but it has now become a reality with the potential to revolutionize the computing industry, according to Nature World News.

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