Is Black Phosphorus the New Graphene?

Atoms-thin flakes of phosphorus have a crucial property that graphene lacks

2 min read
Is Black Phosphorus the New Graphene?
The Dark Crystal: A sliver of black arsenic phosphorus was used to make 2-D transistors with easily adjustable properties.
Photo: Andreas Battenberg/TUM

Chemists first synthesized black phosphorus over a hundred years ago. But it was only last year when anybody really took interest in the flaky black stuff. In a series of experiments reported in the first half of 2014, researchers were able to exfoliate black phosphorus into very thin films of only about 10 to 20 atoms thick. Now black phosphorus has become the new darling of two-dimensional materials research and a new hope for a postsilicon world.

The excitement around black phosphorus, which is also called phosphorene in reference to its 2-D cousin graphene, stems mainly from the fact that it has an inherent bandgap, something that graphene lacks. A bandgap, an energy band in which no electron states can exist, is essential for creating the on/off flow of electrons that are needed in digital logic and for the generation of photons for LEDs and lasers.

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3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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