The Jerusalem Post
TAU researchers create the world’s thinnest tech
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have made a scientific breakthrough by engineering what is currently the single smallest and thinnest piece of technology that has the thickness of just two atoms.
The result of a multidisciplinary effort from TAU’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy and its school of chemistry. The findings were published in Science magazine.
But this breakthrough isn’t just defined by its size. Rather, it also possesses useful utility. Essentially, the technology works by using quantum-mechanical electron tunneling, which allows it to travel through the thin film.
Right now, state-of-the-art devices have tiny crystals with one million atoms (one hundred atoms in height, width and thickness). Essentially, this means a million of these tiny divides could fit into the area of a coin, each device switching over a million times per second.
This breakthrough means that the tiny crystals can be shrunk to just two atoms thick, meaning that memories and information can move with greater speed and efficiency.
It could significantly boost the speed and efficiency of electronic devices, while also reducing energy consumption.
The technology itself is made of layers of boron and nitrogen in a hexagonal structure, but broke the symmetry by assembling two layers.
“The symmetry breaking we created in the laboratory, which does not exist in the natural crystal, forces the electric charge to reorganize itself between the layers and generate a tiny internal electrical polarization perpendicular to the layer plane,” PhD student Maayan Wizner Stern, who led the study, explained in a statement.
“When we apply an external electric field in the opposite direction the system slides laterally to switch the polarization orientation. The switched polarization remains stable even when the external field is shut down. In this the system is similar to thick three-dimensional ferroelectric systems, which are widely used in technology today.”
According to one of the researchers, Dr. Ben Shalom, “The concept of interlayer sliding as an original and efficient way to control advanced electronic devices is very promising, and we have named it Slide-Tronics.”