TUM makes robust, workable, silicon nanosheets

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process bringing flexible displays and photosensors a step closer.

TUM makes robust, workable, silicon nanosheets

Silicon nanosheets have exceptional optoelectronic properties similar to graphene and could find applications in flexible displays, FETs and photodetectors.

With their ability to store lithium ions, silicon nanosheets are also under consideration as an anode material in rechargeable lithium batteries.

“Silicon nanosheets are particularly interesting because today’s information technology builds on silicon and, unlike with graphene, the basic material does nt need to be exchanged,” says TUM’s Tobias Helbich, “however, the nanosheets themselves are very delicate and quickly disintegrate when exposed to UV light, which has significantly limited their application thus far.”

Embedding the silicon nanosheets in a polymer, protects them from decay and oxidation.

“What makes our nanocomposite special is that it combines the positive properties of both of its components,” saysvHelbich, “the polymer matrix absorbs light in the UV domain, stabilizes the nanosheets and gives the material the properties of the polymer, while at the same time maintaining the remarkable optoelectronic properties of the nanosheets.”

Its flexibility and durability against external influences also makes the newly developed material amenable to standard polymer technology for industrial processing. This puts actual applications within an arm’s reach.

The composites are suited for application in the up and coming field of nanoelectronics. Here, “classical” electronic components like circuits and transistors are implemented on scales of less than 100 nanometers. This allows whole new technologies to be realized – for faster computer processors, for example.

The first successful application of the nanocomposite is in a photodetector.

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