In related research, center scientists recently determined that the dimensional shape of the so-called “P-N junction,” which combines two regions of a semiconductor, can take any of nine different distinctive geometries, but the best-performing one is two-dimensional P meeting two-dimensional N, “layer to layer, thin and flat and facing each other,” Yablonovitch says.
This is important for energy efficiency because the best-performing P-N junction is not the one currently used in semi-conductors, he says. The different geometrical combinations “all behave differently, and it looks like when both layers are very thin, the transistor actuation voltage would be at its minimum,” he says. “What we have discovered is that it looks like a flat layer of P and N will turn out to be the most perfect switch.”
Yablonovitch believes that development of a new switch will be well underway within ten years, possibly even in early use by then. “I’m confident we’ll get it, if not by myself or my team, we hope that scientists all over the world will follow our lead,” he says. “It’s so important, that ultimately we will find a way to make information technology more energy efficient.”