A material once used to create primitive transistors 60 years ago could pave the way for faster electronics in the future.
Researchers at Ohio State University have been exploring the possibilities of germanium, a material comprised of layers of carbon atoms. Similar to graphene in structure, germanium has now been created in one-atom-thick sheets, which the scientists say conducts electrons more than ten times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium.
While graphene is a material being considered commercially in order to develop faster computer chips, assistant professor of chemistry at Ohio State Joshua Goldberger decided to focus on materials that are more traditional.
"Most people think of graphene as the electronic material of the future," Goldberger said. "But silicon and germanium are still the materials of the present. Sixty years' worth of brainpower has gone into developing techniques to make chips out of them. So we've been searching for unique forms of silicon and germanium with advantageous properties, to get the benefits of a new material but with less cost and using existing technology."
Published in journal ACS Nano, the scientists describe how they were able to create a single layer of germanium atoms -- known in this form as germanane -- by wedging calcium atoms between multi-layered germanium crystals to keep the structure stable. Once tested with hydrogen and air, the team found that the speed measurement of electrons through germanane is ten times faster than through silicon and five times faster than through conventional germanium.
Graphene, therefore, may not be the only material suitable to create high-powered electronics and computer chips in the future.
Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, the Center for Emergent Materials at Ohio State, and the university's Materials Research Seed Grant Program.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com