Engineers at MIT University in Boston have reported that they have created the first high-quality thin films in a new family of semiconductor materials. The performance, referred to by leading researcher Rafael Jaramillo as a “white whale” (as he has been obsessively searching for years), could affect several areas of technology if history repeats itself. The ability to produce high-quality films from other semiconductor families has led to computers, solar panels, night vision cameras, and more.
“The introduction of a new material” will only allow major scientific breakthroughs if “The study of low-quality materials often yields false negative results in terms of their scientific interest and technological potential,” said Jaramillo.
semiconductor family can find applications in the field of solar panels and lighting. However, he noted that “the history of semiconductor research shows that new families of semiconductors generally allow use in a way that is unpredictable.”
they are made of cheap, non-toxic elements. The thin layers created by his team consist of barium, zirconium, and sulfur in a special crystal structure, “the prototypical chalcogenide perovskite,” Jaramillo pointed out. According to this, variations can be made by changing the composition. So it’s really a family of materials, not just a unique material. The dissertation on this was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials
A blue flower is reflected in a A thin layer of a new semiconductor material developed at MIT. The clarity of the reflection testifies to the excellent quality of the film.
Jaramillo et al. Used a technique called molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) to grow high-quality films. The technique makes it possible to control crystal growth at the atomic level, but “it is extremely difficult to implement and there is no guarantee of success with a new material. The history of semiconductor technology shows the value of MBE development, so it’s worth trying,” MBE essentially directs molecular rays to a specific arrangement of atoms on a surface (“taxy,” as in epitaxy, means arrangement or orientation). This arrangement of atoms provides the template on which the radiated molecules will grow. “That’s why epitaxial growth gives you the best quality movies. The materials know how to grow,” said Jaramillo.
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