Alternate Methods of Making Semiconductors  


January 2, 2023

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Many contemporary technologies, such as computers, digital cameras, LEDs, vehicles, and solar panels, depend on Si Wafers and semiconductors. Despite their widespread use, current semiconductor production techniques are expensive and energy-intensive. Fortunately, a new method of making semiconductors is making headlines today.  

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New Method of Making Semiconductors  

Who and Where Was It Developed?  

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have recently developed an alternative method for manufacturing semiconductors. They are working with Bryce Sadtler, associate professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, and Rohan Mishra, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science at the McKelvey School of Engineering. With their innovative method, the researchers can build a thin layer of material without the expensive and challenging subsurface.  

The New Method  

The need for a single-crystalline substrate, or subsurface, for the silicon or semiconductors to develop has been a key barrier in producing high-quality semiconductors utilizing electrodeposition. The new method created a way to use electrodeposition to synthesize the semiconductor compound without requiring a single-crystal substrate.  

In the early phases of electrodeposition, a seed layer can emerge under the proper growth circumstances and yield a polycrystalline film of acceptable quality for semiconductor devices. That initial seed layer is surprising but ultimately crucial to controlling the growth and final structure of the semiconductor film and is the foundation of the team’s unique method for growing high-quality semiconductor films.  

How Does It Affect the Future?  

Making semiconductors may be appealing for future developments in renewable energy, quantum computing, and biological imaging. Bismuth selenide, the semiconducting substance employed in this work, has several characteristics that make it particularly appealing for these new uses.  

The inclusion of these materials into energy and information conversion devices can be made easier by the ability to create semiconductor films like bismuth selenide by electrodeposition at ambient temperature without the need for a single-crystal growth substrate.  

worker handling a Si Wafer 

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