As modern technology continues to get more compact, so must transistors, which are the building blocks of computer processing. (Image: ISTOCK/@MATEJMO)

Two-dimensional materials can be used to create smaller, high-performance transistors than the ones traditionally made of silicon, according to Professor Saptarshi Das of Penn State’s College of Engineering. He and his team conducted tests to determine the technological viability of transistors made from 2D materials.

We live in a digital and connected world driven by data,” Das said. “Big data requires increased storage and processing power. If you want to store or process more data, you need to utilize more and more transistors.” In other words, as modern technology continues to get more compact, so must transistors.

Silicon, the 3D material that has been used to manufacture transistors for six decades, cannot be produced any smaller, according to Das, which makes its use in transistors increasingly challenging. However, past research studies have determined that 2D materials, as an alternative, can be manufactured 10 times thinner than the silicon technology currently in practice.

In their study, researchers grew monolayer molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide using a metal organic chemical vapor deposition technique obtained from the 2D Crystal Consortium NSF Materials Innovation Platform (2DCC-MIP) at Penn State.

To understand how the new 2D transistors perform, the researchers analyzed statistical measures as seen in relation to threshold voltage, subthreshold slope, ratio of maximum to minimum current, field-effect carrier mobility, contact resistance, drive-current, and carrier saturation velocity.

The tests confirmed the viability of the new transistors, proving the technology can now move forward to manufacturing and development, according to Das. “These new transistors can help make the next generation of computers faster, more energy efficient, and able to withstand more data processing and storing,” he said.