Silicon has been the ideal chemical element as a semiconductor since it dethroned germanium in the 1960s. We owe him a lot, because almost all our electronic devices contain it. But the time has come for him to retire and MIT already has an ideal replacement for him.
Silicon is part of the ‘elementary semiconductors’ that exist for the technology industry. Because they are those that are composed of a single chemical element. This is because it has ideal physicochemical properties for electronics, including the manufacture of photovoltaic panels. This does not mean that silicon is the ideal semiconductor, it has its disadvantages because now, with the new advances in technology, we are approaching its physical limit. So it is time to get a new replacement for this element that has given us so much in the electronics industry.
Of course, scientists have spent years in this search with some candidates that promised to become the substitute for silicon. Before getting to know the new semiconductor that could replace silicon, it is good to remember what a semiconductor is and why it interests us. It is, in short, an element that under conditions of pressure, temperature, or when exposed to radiation or an electromagnetic field, behaves as a conductor. Although in other conditions it can be an insulator.
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Now, a scientific team made up of MIT researchers has found a semiconductor that appears to be the one with amazing physicochemical properties, according to an article published by the journal Science. Cubic boron arsenide (c-BAs), is not an elemental semiconductor. And it is not because it is composed of two chemical elements: boron (B) and arsenic (As). But it stands out for its high thermal conductivity, and also for the mobility of both free electrons and electron holes. Thus, it is possible that we are on the verge of having a new semiconductor that responds to advances in technology.
Image: Jonas Svidras on Unsplash