Research team uses excitons to take electronics into the future | 7/25/2018 | Staff
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Excitons could revolutionize the way engineers approach electronics. A team of EPFL researchers has created a new type of transistor—one of the components of circuits—using excitons instead of electrons. Notably, their exciton-based transistor functions effectively at room temperature, a hitherto insurmountable obstacle. They achieved this by using two 2-D materials as semiconductors. Their study, which was published today in Nature, has numerous implications in the field of excitonics, a promising new area of study alongside photonics and spintronics.

"Our research showed that by manipulating excitons, we had come upon a whole new approach to electronics," says Andras Kis, who heads EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES). "We are witnessing the emergence of a totally new field of study, the full scope of which we don't yet know."

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This breakthrough sets the stage for optoelectronic devices that consume less energy and are both smaller and faster than current devices. In addition, it will be possible to integrate optical transmission and electronic data-processing systems into the same device, which will reduce the number of operations needed and make the systems more efficient.

Excitons are actually quasiparticles, a term used to describe the interaction between the particles that make up a given substance rather than the substance itself. Excitons consist of an electron and an electron hole. The two are bound together when the electron absorbs a photon and achieves a higher level of energy; the "excited" electron leaves behind a hole in the previous level of energy, which, in band theory, is called a valence band. This hole, also a quasiparticle, is an indication of the missing electron in this band.

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Since the electron is negatively charged and the hole is positively charged, the two particles remain bound by an electrostatic force. This bond between the electron and the hole is called Coulomb attraction....
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