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In Nature Communications, RWTH Professor Max Lemme and colleagues describe the most promising application areas for two-dimensional (2D) materials.
“More Moore” and “More than Moore”: these are two of the most important lines of research in the semiconductor industry. More Moore (More Moore) is an expression of the effort to extend “Moore’s Law”, i.e. the continuous effort to shrink transistors and integrate more smaller and faster transistors on each chip of the next production node. More than Moore suggests instead combining digital and non-digital capabilities on the same chip, a trend also known as “CMOS+X” that has accelerated with the rise of 5G connectivity and applications like the ‘Internet of things and autonomous driving is becoming increasingly important.
For these two lines of research, 2D materials constitute an extremely promising platform. For example, their ultimate thinness makes them prime candidates to replace silicon as the channel material for nanosheet transistors in future technology nodes, which would enable continuous dimensional scaling. In addition, devices based on 2D materials can in principle be easily integrated into standard CMOS technology and can therefore be used to extend the capabilities of silicon chips with additional functions, such as sensors, photonics or devices. memristifs for neuromorphic computing. RWTH scientists Max C. Lemme and Christoph Stampfer with Deji Akinwande (University of Texas, Austin, USA) and Cedric Huyghebaert (IMEC,
“2D materials have the potential to become the X-factor of the integrated electronics of the future,” says Professor Max Lemme, Chair of Electronic Components at RWTH Aachen University and spokesperson for the Aachen Graphene & 2D Materials Center. “I expect them to first come to market in niche applications for specific sensors, as the manufacturing technology requirements might be lower. But I am also convinced that 2D materials will play an important role in photonic integrated circuits and in future neuromorphic computing applications. We are still in the early stages here, but the first results are already very promising.
In fact, more than a dozen 2D materials have already been discovered that exhibit programmable switching resistance – the fundamental property for building devices (memristors) – that can be used to mimic the behavior of synapses and neurons. Although many fundamental aspects remain to be understood, early memristors based on 2D materials demonstrated competitive performance and a wide range of other desirable characteristics, such as non-clonability and high-frequency switching for communication systems. In fact, such memristors are being studied in detail in the Cluster4Future “NeuroSys” project, which started in January 2022.
Another future area where 2D materials can play an important role is quantum technology. “There is consistent evidence that 2D materials have great potential for quantum computing as well as for quantum communication and for novel quantum sensors,” says Prof. Christoph Stampfer, head of the 2D Materials and Quantum Devices Group at RWTH Aachen University and co-author of the comments. “Speaking of quantum computing, 2D materials are now eight to 12 years ahead of other platforms like silicon – spin qubits based on 2D materials, for example, are within reach but not yet demonstrated. However, the flexibility offered by the 2D platform could provide great medium-long term benefits and overcome some of the barriers faced by other platforms.