Microchip Advance: Molybdenite (MoS2) Beats Silicon By a Mile

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Home / Microchip Advance: Molybdenite (MoS2) Beats Silicon By a Mile

Model of the crystal structure of molybdenite. Image by Ben Mills

Molybdenite is the wave of the future, when it comes to microchips, according to researchers at the Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES). The research team, headed by Director Andras Kis, has made a working prototype of a microchip using molybdenite rather than silicon.

Announced today, the lab’s research proves that MoS2 can surpass silicon’s performance in a variety of areas.

What is Molybdenite?

Molybdenite, or MoS2, is an ore of the metal molybdenum, with a molecular weight of 160.07 gm. It’s also the next wave in microchips, and provides a number of benefits over today’s silicon-based chips. You can see from the image below what it looks like in an unprocessed state, but what makes this mineral special in the microchip world?

Molybdenite is the new silicon. Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Benefits of MoS2 over Silicon

Molybdenite (MoS2) has a number of benefits over silicon (Si) when it comes to creating a microchip. Among these benefits are an improved capacity for miniaturization, which means that future chips using MoS2 will be smaller than silicon chips. Reduced electricity consumption is another benefit, along with mechanical flexibility.

Decoded Science had the opportunity to ask Professor Kis for his perspective.

Decoded Science: What do you think is the most significant difference when comparing a silicon chip to the MoS2-based chip?

Professor Kis: The most significant difference is that MoS2 is thinner than Si, so you can in principle make smaller, at least 3 times smaller, transistors than with silicon. MoS2 is the thinnest semiconductor available.

Decoded Science: What would you project is the time-frame in which consumers could expect your research to be used in the regular computing marketplace?

Professor Kis: I would say something on the order of 10 years.

Decoded Science: If the prototype proves that Molybdenite can be used as an effective replacement for for silicon in chip production, are you now working towards making a larger chip?

Silicon-based microchips: Image by pipp

Professor Kis: Our prototype is still far from proving that we can replace silicon but it shows that we can make circuits and that there are no limitations in the material properties to making much more complex circuits. What remains now is a lot of hard work in coming up with a cheap and fast fabrication method and to make more complex circuits.

Faster, Smaller, More Efficient Computers

It’ll be a while before the MoS2 microchip is standard in computers, if it does remain a viable solution as research continues, but the work being done by Professor Kis and his team is a great addition to the never-ending quest for a smaller, faster, more efficient computer chip.

Resources:

Perrin, S. First Molybdenite Microchip. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (December 5, 2011). Accessed December 5, 2011.

MinDat. Molybdenite. (2011). Accessed December 5, 2011.

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