The Quest for 2-D Silicon

Silicene—the silicon analogue to graphene—could have amazing electronic abilities

3 min read
Two-dimensional silicon forms hexagons on silver.
Silicon Honeycomb: Two-dimensional silicon forms hexagons on silver.
Image: Thomas Bruhn

In 2004 two researchers, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselev, at the University of Manchester, in England, announced the creation of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon with unparalleled electronic properties. A decade earlier, Kyozaburo Takeda and Kenji Shiraishi of NTT Basic Research Laboratories, in Atsugi, Japan, predicted that a similar structure of silicon atoms—silicene—should exist. Now, a group of scientists in Europe say they’ve finally managed to create a sample of the stuff. Experts expect that silicene will have some of graphene’s amazing abilities—such as allowing electrons to speed through it as if they had no mass—but in an element more familiar to the semiconductor industry.

Geim and Novoselev had isolated graphene in an embarrassingly simple manner: They peeled it off graphite with Scotch tape. The creation of a silicene layer was much more difficult. “There is no equivalent to graphite where you could simply peel it off, and that was the problem,” says Patrick Vogt, a physicist at the Technical University of Berlin. He led a team of researchers from France and Italy, who synthesized and investigated the properties of single layers of silicene and reported the results in April’s Physical Review Letters.

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The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.

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The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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