Molybdenite pegged as potential silicon replacement

— 10:13 AM on January 31, 2012

Move over, graphene. Another new material is making waves as a potential replacement for silicon: molybdenite. Swiss researchers have created the first integrated circuit using the material, which Wikipedia tells me is a mineral of molybdenum disulfide.

As MIT's Technology Review explains, molybdenite has a natural "band gap" that makes it particularly suitable for integrated circuits. This band gap allows molybdenite to shift between conducting and insulating states depending on the energy level, an essential trait if one is to build transistors. Graphene doesn't have a natural band gap, and creating one is reportedly rather complex.

Molybdenite occurs in nature and can be created easily, so it doesn't sound all that exotic. The Swiss team was able to pass signals through the material using a new technique that puts hafnium oxide "gates" between the molybdenite and gold electrodes. Molybdenite is still a long way from being a viable commercial alternative to silicon, though. We'll be watching how it and other proposed silicon replacements develop over the next few years.

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