A New 2D Transistor Breakthrough Could Make Thinner Processors

Electronic devices like computers and smartphones are continually getting thinner and smaller. One of the challenges to thinner and smaller devices in the future is reducing the size of the internal components and hardware, and MIT has announced a new advance that might enable 2D transistors for smaller microchip components. Researchers on the project believe this breakthrough could help continue the progress in the microchip market, allowing Moore's Law to continue.

Moore's Law predicts that the number of transistors packed into a microchip can double every couple of years, but physical limits are beginning to slow that progress down. MIT researchers are exploring the use of atomically thin materials instead of silicon to make transistors. One major challenge to using 2D materials is that connecting them to conventional electronic components has been difficult.

Researchers at MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, along with others, have found a way to make those required electrical connections. The breakthrough could help bring the potential of 2D materials to market and improve the miniaturization of components, thereby extending Moore's Law for the near future.

Researchers resolved one of the biggest problems in miniaturizing semiconductor devices, which is the contact resistance between a metal electrode and a monolayer semiconductor material. One researcher said the solution to the problem was relatively simple and required a semi-metal element called bismuth to take the place of ordinary metals to connect with the monolayer material.

Ultrathin monolayer materials, such as molybdenum disulfide, have been viewed as a possibility for getting around the miniaturization limits encountered by silicon-based transistor technology. Creating a highly conductive interface between the materials and metal conductors to connect them was the challenge. The rapid pace for transistor miniaturization stalled around the year 2000, but a new development broke that roadblock in 2007. However, researchers believe we are on the edge of another bottleneck, but this new breakthrough could help push through.