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New Electronic Properties of Black Phosphorus Discovered


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Silicon is reaching the end of its days for electronics as we approach fundamental physical limits for its performance. We still have time though, and many are spending it to find replacements. One contender is black phosphorus and researchers at the Institute for Basic Science have discovered a powerful way to control its electronic properties.

For silicon to work as a semiconductor, it has to be doped with certain atoms to give it a positive or negative flavor. It is by combining n-type and p-type semiconductors that basic electronic components are made. What the researchers discovered is that doping is not required to give black phosphorus the extra electrons to be n-type, or the extra electron-holes to be p-type. Instead the thickness of black phosphorus will determine this, as will the metal used to contact it. This gives black phosphorus an interesting advantage as its electronic properties can be so readily tuned. It also has very good carrier mobility, which is the ease at which electrons can travel through it.

While this is all good news for a future for black phosphorus electronics, actually making the material is very difficult. Currently no means exists to make it on a large scale, and thin layers of it can only be made by scraping them off of bulk crystalline black phosphorus. Fortunately while black phosphorus can be a two-dimensional material, just one layer thick, it should be useable when there are more layers, and may even operate better that way.

Source: Institute for Basic Science

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