Have Korean scientists just made a sub-nm breakthrough?
A team of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology believe they can produce sub-nanometer-scale semiconductors from ambipolar molybdenum disulfide (MoS2).
The race is on to develop smaller and smaller nodes as advanced computing demands unprecedented volumes of transistors on a chip. Currently, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing offer a 3-nanometer process, and are set to begin mass production of chips based on a 2-nanometer process.
But going sub-nanometer is not possible yet, and silicon is reaching its physical limit in terms of miniturisation. One nanometer is roughly 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The team at KAIST claim they have overcome this roadblock, by adapting MoS2 for the purpose. MOS2 is not a new solution. The substance has always shown promise as an alternative to silicon but scientists have struggled to make an ambipolar semiconductor from it. Ambipolar semiconductors transport both positive and negative charges – a basic feature necessary for chips.
KAIST Professor Lee Ka-young said: "The world is now competing to develop computer chip nodes targeting 1 nanometer and smaller. Traditional silicon is not a good substance due to such problems as the short-channel effects. MoS2 is superior due to its unique structure...we have now showed simple strategies to achieve high-performance ambipolar MoS2 devices."