Apr 27, 2023

Engineers ‘grow’ atomically thin transistors on top of computer chips

Posted by in categories: particle physics, robotics/AI

Emerging AI applications, like chatbots that generate natural human language, demand denser, more powerful computer chips. But semiconductor chips are traditionally made with bulk materials, which are boxy 3D structures, so stacking multiple layers of transistors to create denser integrations is very difficult.

However, semiconductor transistors made from ultrathin 2D materials, each only about three atoms in thickness, could be stacked up to create more powerful chips. To this end, MIT researchers have now demonstrated a that can effectively and efficiently “grow” layers of 2D transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) materials directly on top of a fully fabricated silicon chip to enable denser integrations.

Growing 2D materials directly onto a silicon CMOS wafer has posed a major challenge because the process usually requires temperatures of about 600 degrees Celsius, while silicon transistors and circuits could break down when heated above 400 degrees. Now, the interdisciplinary team of MIT researchers has developed a low-temperature growth process that does not damage the chip. The technology allows 2D semiconductor transistors to be directly integrated on top of standard silicon circuits.

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