First Molybdenite Microchip! Could Surpass Silicon, Introduce Smaller, More Energy Efficient Computing

John Chapman/CC BY-SA 3.0

Silicon may need to move over soon as molybdenite has proven its possibilities for being a more versatile material with which to make computer chips. The chips have transistors that are smaller (transistors can be made that are just three atoms thick) and more energy efficient, able to be turned on and off more quickly.

Science Daily reports, "After having revealed the electronic advantages of molybdenite, EPFL researchers have now taken the next definitive step. The Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) has made a chip, or integrated circuit, confirming that molybdenite can surpass the physical limits of silicon in terms of miniaturization, electricity consumption, and mechanical flexibility."

Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) is a naturally occurring mineral, and there is plenty of it. That means this could be competition for silicon, offering a new material to work with for electronics. And, as Gizmodo points out, "molybdenite also has mechanical properties that mean that it's flexible. Not flexible, versatile. No: flexible, bendable. That could mean devices that don't just flex but, you know, actually fold are just round the corner."

There are of course still questions for how eco-friendly this material is, including how it may affect the recycleability of electronics and how we gather this material. According to Wikipedia, "Molybdenite occurs in high temperature hydrothermal ore deposits. Its associated minerals include pyrite, chalcopyrite, quartz, anhydrite, fluorite, and scheelite. Important deposits include the disseminated porphyry molybdenum deposits at Questa, New Mexico and the Henderson and Climax mines in Colorado. Molybdenite also occurs in porphyry copper deposits of Arizona, Utah, and Mexico."

Tags: Computing | Concepts & Prototypes | Electronics