Researchers Discover New Metallic Atomically-Thin Silicon

Graphene Silicene
Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) topographic image of the silicene surface on ZrB2 with (right) and without (right) an additional layer of silicon deposited on top. A schematic illustration of this is shown above. With the added layer, the silicon nanostructure becomes metallic and forms an atomically sharp boundary with the neighbouring silicene.

Researchers have discovered a new Metallic Silicon nanostructure that could provide native electrical contact (instead of contacts made of metals) for silicon devices, according to a study from multiple institutions. 

According an article from I-connect07, “A new metallic silicon (Si) nanostructure has been discovered by researchers from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), and the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), USA. Their study, which appears in the journal 2D Materials (“Metallic atomically-thin layered silicon epitaxially grown on silicene/ZrB2″), shows that a new atomically-thin Si nanostructure with metallic properties can be grown upon the two-dimensional (2D) material silicene on zirconium diboride (ZrB2).”

“Recent work has shown that silicene can be incorporated into a conventional field effect transistor and other 2D materials. However, a challenge that remains is how to precisely electrically contact external wires to the silicene sheet without destroying the electronic properties that we desire”

“In this work, the researchers found that growing additional silicon layers on top of the silicene surface led to the development of an unusual form of silicon that is unlike a normal silicon crystal. Using angle resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, a technique that probes how electrons are bound in a material, the team showed that the new Si nanostructure is metallic.”

Silicene, which is atomic layer silicon, could eventually be used in lieu of traditional silicon in electronics, resulting in lighter, thinner devices. 

“One very exciting new material is silicene, the silicon analogue to graphene” says Yukiko Yamada-Takamura, the member of the research team whose group first discovered the formation of silicene on ZrB2. “Silicene is an interesting development in the field because it may give us access to the electronic properties previously unique to graphene, but in the material of choice in the information technology industry, silicon.”

“This work highlights the unexpected and intriguing results that can manifest when the structure of 2D materials are altered, even by the addition of one more layer of atoms” said Dr Tobias G. Gill, the first author of this work. “We hope that this new metallic form of silicon can be used to develop the ability to produce native electrical contacts to silicene in future devices.”

Full article from I-connect07 

Publication Journal“Metallic atomically-thin layered silicon epitaxially grown on silicene/ZrB2”, Tobias G Gill et al., Published 17 February 2017 • 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd, 2D Materials, Volume 4, Number 2


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