Coal Could be in Your Next CPU

Coal has been found to be a fantastic insulator for 2D transistors.

Reports are being circulated of a team of researchers are looking to coal as a potential replacement for metal oxide film used to insulate next-generation transistors. If coal can successfully replace moder-day metal oxide transistors, it could have big implications for the semiconductor industry.

Smiconductors are made of and rely upon multiple materials to work correctly. They are mainly made of silicon, but additional materials are required to insulate the silicon transistors from each other to prevent electrical current from going where it isn’t supposed to (leakage). Currently, metal oxide insulates silicon transistors to prevent leakage.

Coal isn’t being used to replace silicone transistors, instead is it being viewed as a potential replacement insulator for non-silicon transistors to replace metal oxide.

Other materials being investigated include graphene and molybdenum. Transistors created using these materials are called 2D transistors due to their incredible flatness. Graphene is capable of functions at a thickness of a single atom.

One issue with 2D transistors is that metal oxide cannot adequately insulate them when bonded. This results in leakage, making the transistors inoperable. Coal was surprisingly found to be more capable of insulating graphene and molybdenum transistors.

development into coal insulators is still in its infancy. Currently it is the only material capable of insulating 2D transistors. It also has several advantages, including high abundance, easy fabrication, and a rich nanostructure, making it an ideal material for semiconductor manufacturing.

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