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Graphene Rival 'phosphorene' Is Born to Be a Transistor

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The rigid structure of phosphorene.

Purdue University researchers say phosphorene-based semiconductors could appear in the next generation of computers.

Credit: Peide Ye

Phosphorene, which is structurally similar to graphene, is a natural semiconductor that could be used in the next generation of computers, according to Purdue University researchers.

Although graphene has been hailed as the next step in computer technology, it conducts electricity a little too well, says Purdue's Peide Ye. Phosphorene, which is ultra-thin like graphene but is made of phosphorus atoms, also has similar properties to silicon, another natural semiconductor.

The Purdue researchers found that they could use ordinary sticky tape to peel away sheets just a few atoms thick from black phosphorus crystals. "We call it the Scotch tape technique--it's very low-tech," Ye says.

The researchers have created simple transistors out of a thin layer of phosphorene, and shown that they can be integrated with other two-dimensional materials and with silicon.

Phosphorene's natural semiconductor properties give it an edge over graphene, says the University of Maryland in College Park's Sankar Das Sarma. However, he notes it is still not clear how to reliably produce sheets of phosphorene. "Obviously, technology cannot depend on Scotch tape extraction," Das Sarma says.

From New Scientist
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