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Nano-Scale Ferroelectric Discovery Paves the Way for Next-Gen Semi-Conductor Technologies

A research team led by Professors Yann-Wen Lan and Ting-Hua Lu from the NTNU Department of Physics has achieved a significant breakthrough in the realm of ferroelectric materials with the development of a ferroelectric crystal based on the two-dimensional material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). With a thickness of merely 1.3 nanometers, the ST-3R MoS2 FeS-FET operates at a low voltage, addressing the challenges of size reduction and power consumption in conventional ferroelectric materials. This breakthrough has applications in non-volatile memory and low-power electronic devices, making strides toward the development of next-generation semiconductor technologies and contributing to the global competitiveness of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. The findings of this research were published in the Nature Electronics journal in November 2023 (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41928-023-01073-0).

Recognizing the potential of two-dimensional materials in advancing semiconductor technology, Taiwan’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has actively supported the 'Angstrom Semiconductor Initiative” and “Consortium of Emergent Crystalline Materials.” Within this frame work, ferroelectric materials are noted for their rapid read-write speeds and the ability to retain data without power. However, the development of ferroelectric transistors has faced challenges, including the volatility of electrodichometric polarization and complex manufacturing processes that become increasingly difficult as component size decreases.

Addressing these challenges, Professors Lan and Lu, have explored the ferroelectric potential of two-dimensional materials in collaboration with Associate Professor C.L. Lin from the Department of Electrophysics at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Professor Y.C. Chen from the Department of Physics at National Cheng Kung University, M. H. Lee from National Taiwan University, and K.S. Li of the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute. Together, the scientists have successfully synthesized bilayer molybdenum disulfide exhibiting ferroelectric properties through chemical vapor deposition (CVD). The unique shear transformation phenomenon, facilitated by mobile screw dislocations that enable collective polarity control via an electric field, allows for reversible electric polarization.

The novel ferroelectric crystal device demonstrates low read/write voltage requirements, rapid operational speed, and enhanced stability. Its manufacturing process is in line with existing industrial techniques, ensuring compatibility with existing industrial standards.

By integrating ferroelectric two-dimensional materials into field-effect transistors, the research team has not only propelled the field of ferroelectric materials forward but also addressed critical issues related to miniaturization and energy efficiency. This breakthrough is particularly relevant for ultra-large integrated circuits and data storage technologies. With a thickness that is equivalent to just two layers of 2D material atoms, this ultra-thin transistor represents a significant advancement for sub-3nm technology nodes, offering a viable solution for cutting-edge semiconductor fabrication.

The international recognition of these research outcomes highlights Taiwan’s strength in the semiconductor industry on a global scale. The ferroelectric semiconductor components developed by Professor Lan's team overcome existing challenges and are set for further development and application, poised to impact various technological domains.