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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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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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