Engineers from Kansas State University have used gold atoms to enhance the transistor properties of a nanomaterial only several atoms in thickness in a development which could have radical implications for ultrathin electrical and thermal devices.

A research team led by Vikas Berry, KSU’s William H. Honstead professor of chemical engineering, has found that the introduction and manipulation of gold atoms can be employed to greatly enhance the electrical properties of molybdenum disulfide – a three-atom thick nanomaterial.

Berry’s laboratory focuses on the development of next-generation ultra thin nanomaterials which, according to the professor, “have the potential to revolutionise electronics by evolving into devices that will be only a few atoms thick.”

In a paper published in Nano Letters, the researchers describe how they examined the structure of molybdenum disulfide, and concluded that the presence of sulphur atoms on its surface meant it harbored strong potential for bonding with noble metals such as gold.

The researchers were then able to attach gold nanostructures to the molybdenum disulfide, and discovered that the bond itself served as a highly coupled gate capacitor, greatly enhancing the material’s transistor characteristics.

Vikas Berry

Vikas Berry, William H. Honstead professor of chemical engineering, and his research team have studied a new three-atom-thick material and found that manipulating it with gold atoms improves its electrical characteristics.

According to Berry, this should facilitate the development of ultrathin electrical devices by reducing the amount of power they need to operate.

“The spontaneous, highly capacitive, lattice-drive and thermally-controlled interfacing of noble metals on metal-dischalcogenide layers can be employed to regulate their carrier concentration, pseudo-mobility, transport barriers and phonon transport for future devices,” Berry said.

“The research will pave the way for atomically fusing layered heterostructures to leverage their capacitive interactions for next-generation electronics and photonics. For example, the gold nanoparticles can help launch 2D plasmons on ultrathin materials, enabling their interference for plasmonic-logic devices.”