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Making a Better Semiconductor

By MS­Today

June 30, 2015

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Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) have developed a method for changing the electronic properties of materials in a way that will more easily enable an electrical current to pass through them, which could lead to the development of new and improved semiconductors.

The team shot an ultrafast laser pulse into an unconventional semiconductor made of alternating atomically thin layers of metals and insulators, via a process known as photo-doping. MSU professor Chong-Yu Ruan and colleagues varied the wavelengths and intensities of laser pulses, and developed an ultrafast electron-based imaging technique to observe the changes in the materials. They were able to observe phases with different properties that are captured on the femtosecond timescale. The properties of the material would change as if it had been chemically doped.

MSU researcher Philip Duxbury says ultrafast photo-doping "has potential applications that could lead to the development of next-generation electronic materials and possibly optically-controlled switching devices employing undoped semiconductor materials."

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