There is a limit to what graphene can do all on its own. And creating a band gap — something necessary for the creation of semiconductors — is one of them. Now, a team at MIT has just discovered that a material called hexagonal boron nitride might be the partner graphene has been searching for.
Together, the two single atom-thick materials can create transistors and semiconductors that are as 2D as they come. Infinitely thinner than a sheet of paper, the computers and gadgets of the future could really be a practically 2D object, existing in our 3D world.
What's more, the paired materials, when exposed to a magnetic field, can create an effect known as a Hofstadter butterfly energy spectrum — a series of fractal properties that have never before been observed in the physical world. In fact, they were thought to be impossible, until now.
The pairing of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride is a very new thing. And although the band gap that they make possible has exceeded even the team at MIT's wildest expectations, it isn't quite fit for production yet. But the time may soon come when these two 2D structures make every last one of our gadgets as thin as physically possible. Quite soon, in fact — because the team has already found that by altering the alignment of the graphene against the hexagonal boron nitride, they can "tune" the connection between the two.
The future of electronics is coming, and it's going to be able to do the impossible.
Via MIT News