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Advanced Hybrid Electric Switches Made


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Semiconductors are critical to computers because they allow for nanoscale electronic switches to be built. They do have limits though, as the switches can only go so small and they put out a fair amount of heat. For some time now researchers have been working on switches without semiconductors, and those at Michigan Technological University have made an important discovery towards that goal.

This discovery is a hybrid material consisting of a sheet of graphene that has had pinholes put in it so boron nitride nanotubes could grow off of the sheet. Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that is highly conductive, while boron nitride can be made a single molecule thick and is a great insulator. Both of these materials feature the same hexagonal pattern, so they actually connect very nicely, and where they do heterojunctions are formed. These junctions are what make the hybrid material viable as an electronic switch, due to how the electrons flow near and around them.

Switches made from this hybrid material could potentially operate at very high speeds because of a high switching ratio, thanks to the great difference in conductivity between the two materials.

Source: Michigan Technological University

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