(Nanwerk News) in a zip comment posted on Nature Connections (“2D Materials for Future Heterogeneous Electronics”), Max Lemmy and colleagues identify the most promising areas of applications for 2D (2D) materials, as well as the challenges that still need to be resolved to see the emergence of high-tech products enabled with 2D materials.
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2D materials are a very promising platform for both directions of research. For example, their ultimate thinness makes them prime candidates to replace silicon as channel materials for nanosheet transistors in future technical nodes, enabling continued expansion in dimensions. In addition, devices based on 2D materials can in principle be well integrated with standard CMOS technology, and thus can be used to extend the capabilities of silicon chips with additional functionality, for example sensors, photonics or memristive devices for neural computing.
“2D materials have the potential to become an ‘X factor’ in future integrated electronics,” says Professor Max Lemmy, Chair of Electronic Devices at RWTH Aachen University and spokesperson for the Aachen Graphene & 2D Center for Materials. “I expect that they will enter the market first in niche applications. For certain sensors, where the requirements may be lower with regard to manufacturing techniques. But I am also convinced that 2D materials will play an important role in optical integrated circuits and in future neural computing applications. Here the field is still in its infancy, but the initial results are very promising.”
In fact, more than a dozen two-dimensional materials have already been discovered that display programmable resistive switching—the fundamental property of building devices (memristors) that can be used to mimic the behavior of synapses and neurons. While many fundamental aspects remain to be understood, the first two-dimensional material-based memristors demonstrated competitive performance as well as a wide range of desirable non-computational functions, such as the inability to reproduce data and radio-frequency switching for communication systems. In fact, these notes are being investigated in detail in the German “NeuroSys” Cluster4Future project that began in January 2022.
Another future area in which 2D materials could play a major role is quantum technologies. Says Professor Christoph Stamper, Head of the Quantum Devices and 2D Materials Group at RWTH Aachen University and co-author of the paper. Speaking of quantum computing, 2D materials are today 8 to 12 years outside of other platforms, such as silicon – for example, spin qubits based on 2D materials are within reach, but not yet proven. However, the flexibility offered by the 2D platform may provide some key advantages in the medium to long term, and allow for overcoming some of the roadblocks faced by other platforms, such as photon-spin coupling.”
Lemme and Stampfer are two of the authors of the short commentary, along with Deji Akinwande, of the University of Texas at Austin (USA), and Cedric Huyghebaert, of IMEC, Belgium. “With this commentary, we wanted to primarily reach our colleagues outside the 2D materials community,” says Lemme. “We wanted to highlight the potential of 2D materials for those unfamiliar with the field, and at the same time, to try to provide honest answers to the question why there are no chips and embedded electronic products enabled by 2D materials yet. There are still fundamental challenges that need to be addressed. solution, but it is important that the semiconductor industry is aware of the progress made by the 2D society. It is time to step up cooperation and take full advantage of these exciting materials.”
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