Scientists have found a way to quickly convert a semiconductor to metal and vice versa
The researchers found that light can quickly switch material between semiconducting and metallic states.
Many modern technologies are based on transistors, usually consisting of several semiconductors, inferior to metals in conductivity. This design limits their performance and the minimum size of the devices. Although their properties can be changed by chemical alloying, this process is irreversible.
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Now a group of scientists from the Max Planck Society has discovered that by laser acting on the surface of semiconductor zinc oxide, it can be easily converted to metal and vice versa. This photodoping is achieved due to the fact that light changes the electronic properties of the material. As a result, electrons suddenly begin to move freely, and current can flow as freely as in a metal. After turning off the light, zinc oxide quickly reverts to a semiconducting state.
According to the researchers, despite completely different approaches, the optical method affects the material in the same way as chemical doping. They also point out that huge changes can be made quickly this way, even at very low laser power. Switching takes place in just 20 femtoseconds.
This discovery could lead to the development of ultrafast optically controlled transistors. In the future, the group will study other semiconductors, hoping to find more energy efficient options.
Earlier, we also reported on the development of a technology that allows the production of metals 4 times harder than normal.
, photo and video: Max Planck Society