Previously there was the Molybdenite chip, and now we have the Molybdenite flash memory - a significant milestone in the use of this new material in the electronics sector. The news is even more impressive, because scientists from EPFL'S Laboratory of Nanometer Electronics and Structures (LANES) came-up with their original idea, when they combined the advantages properties of Molybdenite with another amazing material - Graphene. Such innovative research has been published in the journal American Chemical Society Nano (ACS Nano) as:-
Two years earlier - the same EPFL-LANES team had revealed promising electronic properties for Molybdenite. Several months later, they demonstrated the possibility of building an efficient Molybdenite chip. Up-to-date they have gone further, by employing Molybdenite to develop a flash memory prototype, which is essentially a cell that cannot only store data, but also maintain it in the absence of electricity. The same storage of data/memory is used in digital devices, such as cameras, phones, laptop computers, printers and USB keys.
An ideal "energy band"
As stated by Andras Kis - author of the study and director of EPFL-LANES - "for our memory model, we combined the unique electronic properties of MoS2 with Graphene's amazing conductivity".
Typically Molybdenite and Graphene have many things in common - both are expected to surpass the physical limitations of our current Silicon (Si) chips and electronic transistors. Molybdenite's two-dimensional chemical structure, and the fact they are made-up of a layer only a single atom thick - gives them huge potential for miniaturisation and mechanical flexibility.
Although overall Graphene is a better conductor - Molybdenite has its own advantageous semiconductor properties. For example, Molybdenite has a so called ideal "energy band" in its electronic structure, which Graphene does not necessarily have. Such uniqueness allows it to switch very easily from an "on" to an "off" state, and so less use of electricity. When used together, the two materials can combine and reveal their own unique advantages.
Similar to the news article entitled "MIT - Storing data in individual molecules" - the transistor prototype developed by the EPFL-LANES researchers was designed by employing a "field-effect" geometry. Described as being a bit like a sandwich fabrication, whereby in the middle instead of Si, a thin layer of Molybdenite provides a channel for electrons. Underneath, the electrodes transmitting electricity to the Molybdenite layer is Graphene, and on top, the scientists also employed an element made-up of several layers of Graphene. The layers of Graphene enable for the capture of electric charge, which in turn stores memory.
Kis concluded in stating "combining these two materials enables us to make great progress in miniaturisation and also using these transistors we can make flexible nano-electronic devices,". Overall the prototype stores a bit of memory - similar to a traditional cell. However, according to the EPFL-LANES scientists - since Molybdenite is thinner than Si and so more sensitive to subtle charge changes, then it offers great potential for more efficient data storage. Original article available here
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