Nanotechnology breakthrough for smaller and faster devices

08 January 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A new two-dimensional nanomaterial has been discovered by scientists that could pave the way towards smaller and faster electrical devices.

The nanotechnology breakthrough by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) University in Australia could soon result in smaller computing devices with improved processing speeds joining the technology market.

Layers of thin material - much smaller than the industry-standard benchmark - were created by the researchers, the Advanced Materials journal reported.

Measuring just ten nanometres, it is much thinner than silicon-based chips, which can be up to 30 nanometres.

Graphene was adapted to create the new nanomaterial. Despite graphene being dubbed as the two-dimensional material of the future when it was created in 2004 and seeing its inventors win a Nobel Prize in 2010, it cannot be used for high-speed electronics.

Instead, a process called 'exfoliation' was carried out by the researchers to thin the layers. It was then converted into a semiconductor and nanoscale transistors were created.

Formed by layers of molybdenum oxides, the crystals allow electrons to flow freely at ultra-high speeds.

Dr Serge Zhuiykov said the material, when used in technology, will enable data to be transferred at quicker speeds and will improve the functionality of devices.

"At the moment it is beyond our imagination where this new material could be applied, but it could be employed to create thinner mobile phones, new types of flexible electronics or lighter laptops," he said.

Although it could be a few more years yet before the technology will be used, RMIT's Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh said it laid the foundation for a "new electronics revolution".

Indeed, nanotechnology has become a significant focus for many industries globally, ranging from the medical industries to oil and gas sectors over recent years.

Suresh Bhargava, RMIT University's Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, discussing nanotechnology said it "can become more cost effective, more environmentally friendly - it is 21st century exploration".

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