INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The fastest semiconductors ever made it possible to dramatically speed up computer chips


A “superatomic” material has become the fastest known semiconductor and could make computer chips hundreds or thousands of times faster. Recently, Milan Delor and colleagues at Columbia University in the United States discovered this faster and more efficient semiconductor in a material with the chemical formula Re6Se8Cl2, which is composed of rhenium, selenium and chlorine. The paper was published in Science.

Traditional semiconductor circuit boards are made of silicon. Image credit: aPhoenix photographer/Shutterstock

In fact, particles known as excitons move more slowly in this material than electrons move in silicon, but crucially, they move in a straight line with arrows, so they move a similar distance much faster.

The silicon semiconductors used in the transistors of computer chips rely on the flow of electrons to transmit data, but these particles tend to scatter like crazy, wasting energy in the form of heat and slowing down the time it takes for data to get from A to B.

If transistors are made with this new material that use excitons instead of electrons, they can move from one side of the transistor to the other without scattering, which will allow them to go from A to B 100 to 1000 times faster than electrons in a silicon wafer.

“With the help of new materials, in principle, transistors can switch at speeds of hundreds of gigahertz or even terahertz. “We predict that the performance gains will be huge.” ”

It will be decades before computer chips using this material are used, Delor said. It takes engineers decades to perfect the technology for making silicon wafers, and switching to new materials essentially puts them back to square one. Rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, while silicon is the second most abundant element, so chips made with Re6Se8Cl2 may be used in spacecraft and quantum computers, among other things. (Source: China Science Daily Li Huiyu)

Related Paper Information:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.adf2698



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