Researchers claim a previously unheard of material called molybdenite could pave the way for smaller and more energy efficient electronic chips. Scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) found the material had distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene. They claim it could be used to make transistors that consume 100,000 times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors.
"It's a two dimensional material, very thin and easy to use in nanotechnology," explained EPFL professor Andras Kis. "It has real potential in the fabrication of very small transistors, leds and solar cells." Kis says one of molybdenite's advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, which is a three dimensional material. "In a 0.65nm thick sheet of molybdenite, the electrons can move around as easily as in a 2nm thick sheet of silicon. But it's not currently possible to fabricate a sheet of silicon as thin as a monolayer sheet of MoS2." In solid state physics, band theory is a way of representing the energy of electrons in a given material. In semiconductors, electron free spaces exist between these bands, the so called 'band gaps'. "If the gap is not too small or too large, certain electrons can hop across it," said Kis. "Molybdenite's 1.8 electron volt gap thus offers a greater level of control over the electrical behavior of the material, which can be turned on and off easily. It also gives it an advantage over graphene, which doesn't have a gap and is difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material." The findings have been published in the 30 January edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.