Researchers from Purdue University have recently discovered a new two-dimensional material called tellurene that was derived from the element tellurium. This discovery adds to a list of extremely thin, two-dimensional materials that many engineers have tried to use for improving the chip’s transistors capabilities. One of tellurene’s main purposes is to make transistors’ current conducting more efficient throughout the chip, that means faster information (signals) processing in electronic devices such as phones and computers, and defense technologies like infrared sensors. That further translates to faster operating Times of these devices. Other two-dimensional materials, such as graphene, black phosphorus and silicene, have lacked either stability at room temperature or the feasible production approaches required for manufacturing effective nanotransistors for hi-speed devices.
Tellurene, a two-dimensional film that researchers have found in the rare element – tellurium, achieves a stable, sheet-like transistor structure with faster moving carriers (electrons and holes). Despite tellurium’s rarity, it’s use in transistors’ mass manufacturing processes would make them easier to produce.
“Even though tellurium is not abundant on the Earth’s crust, we only need a little bit to be synthesized through a solution method. And within the same batch, we have a very high production yield of two-dimensional tellurene materials,” said Wenzhuo Wu, assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering. “You simply scale up the container that holds the solution, so productivity is high.”
Since electronic devices are typically being used in domestic environment (room temperature), naturally stable tellurene transistors at this temperature are more practical and cost-efficient than made from other two-dimensional aforementioned materials that have required a vacuum chamber or low operation temperature to achieve similar stability and performance.
The larger crystal flakes of tellurene also mean less barriers between flakes for electrons movement. This is an issue with the more numerous, smaller flakes of other two-dimensional materials. The researchers anticipate that because tellurene can grow on its own without the help of any other substance, the material could possibly find use in other applications beyond electronics, such as flexible printed devices that convert mechanical vibrations or heat to electricity.
Image credits: Purdue University image/Vincent Walter