New 2D transistor material made using precision lasers

Molybdenum ditelluride (MoTe2) is a crystalline compound that if pure enough can be used as a transistor. Its molecular structure is an atomic sandwich made up of one molybdenum atom for every two tellurium atoms[HY1] . It was first made in the 1960's via several different fabrication methods, but until last year it had never been made in a pure enough form to be suitable for electronics.

Last year a multi-discipline research team led by South Korea's Institute for Basic Science (IBS) Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) director Young Hee Lee devised a fabrication method for the creation of pure MoTe2. Not only did they succeed in making MoTe2 in pure form, they were able to make two types of it -- a semiconducting variety called 2H-MoTe2 (2H because of its hexagonal shape) and a metallic variety called 1T'-MoTe2 (1T' because it has an octahedral shape) -- which are both stable at room temperature.

Making MoTe2 in a pure form was very difficult and it was seen by some as a black sheep of the transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) family and purposefully ignored. TMDs are molecules that can be made exceedingly thin, only several atomic layers, and have an electrical property called a band gap, which makes them ideal for making electrical components, especially transistors.
The overwhelming majority of microchips that exist in electronics now are made from silicon, and they work extremely well. However, as devices get smaller there is an increasing demand to shrink the size of the logic chips that make those devices work. As the chips approach single or several atom thickness, (commonly referred to as 2-dimensional), silicon no longer works as well as it does in a larger, 3-dimensional (3D) scale. As the scale approaches 2 dimensions (2D), the band gap of silicon changes (higher band gap than that of its 3D form) and the contact points with metal connections on silicon are no longer smooth enough to be used efficiently in electrical circuits.
This is the perfect opportunity to employ new, exotic TMD materials. The IBS research team was able to exploit the two versions of MoTe2 and make one 2D crystal that was composed of the semiconducting 2H-MoTe2 and the metallic 1T'-MoTe2.


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