Scientists from Queens University Belfast have published new research, which suggests the discovery of a new material, which may revolutionise the face of smartphones. In a collaborative effort with Stanford University, University of California, California State University and the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan seem to have been working on new electronic devices which may be able to conduct electricity at high speeds. The research published suggests these new hybrid devices the scientist have been developing seem to be light, durable and relatively easy to manufacture in large scale semi-conductor plants.
To create this highly conductive and durable material, the team of scientists sought to combine semiconductive molecules with layered materials. Scientists who are experts in the fields of chemistry, physics and materials science were chosen to assist in the research and development of this new material. Through working together, the team of experts began generating simulations to predict how certain materials may react when combined. This allowed the team to identify which materials are best suited for their purposes and which material properties would work well together. The project began as a simulation and the team used this to identify, assemble and predict the ideal materials for use.
Semiconductive materials, such as C60, were combined with layered materials, such as graphene and hBN, to create a unique material. This material, developed by combining others, seemed to result in a new type of solid with its own physical and chemical properties. The layered materials, graphene and hBN, were selected due to their stability, electronic compatibility and isolation charge to graphene while C60 can transform sunlight into electricity. By using these materials, and taking advantage of their unique attributes, the team of scientists may have created a bespoke material for use in electronics. Through the use of a process known as “van der Waals solids” the scientists were able to amalgamate these compounds and their properties.
This new material is said to be similar to Silicon, however with improved chemical stability, lightness and flexibility. As a result of this collection of properties, the team involved in this research suggest it may be ideal for creating durable smart devices. Whether computers or smartphones, future consumers may encounter devices with improved battery life. Dr Elton Santos, from Queens University’s School of Mathematics and Physics, discussed how the team’s initial theories seemed to match the experiments throughout the project and “the accuracy achieved in the experiments remarkably matched what [was] predicted.”
Dr Santos and his international team of scientists recently published their findings which may encourage further research into this discovery. Although this seemed to be an important step to creating more resilient electronic devices, it seems there are still a few more challenges which need to be solved. Primarily, the scientists have yet to discover a band gap to use with graphene; a band gap seems to be integral to the on-off switching of operations within devices. This seems to be something Dr Santos seems acutely aware of and it seems the team have already begun searching for a solution.
One potential solution seems to come in the form of something known as transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). TMDs seem to be chemically stable, and atomically thin, semiconductor which seems to have band gaps which may be used with graphene. Dr Santos explains the team’s findings have now produced “a template but in the future, [they] hope to add an additional feature with TMDs.” Perhaps this particular semiconductor may be the solution the Dr Santos teams needs to help usher in a new generation of durable, and more affordable, hybrid smart devices.
How might this discovery potentially lead to more durable smartphones in the future?