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Sunday, September 28, 2014

#306 Is there a role for tin?

In spite of sitting in the same group 14 of the periodic table of element as the elemental semiconductors carbon, silicon and germanium and featuring the same diamond crystal structure, tin (chemical symbol Sn because of its Latin name stannum) does not display semiconductor properties that would allow it on its own to be of use in the mainstream semiconductor device applications. With energy gap of just 0.1 eV and melting point of 232oC, tin does not offer much in this respect.


Well, it is not the end of the tin story, though. First, simulation and early experiments indicate that by forming a germanium-tin alloy, GeSn, with 3% of Sn added to Ge, a semiconductor which converts indirect bandgap of Ge into direct bandgap and increases hole mobility of Ge is formed. It certainly sounds interesting from both electronic and photonic potential applications point of view.


Second, a single layer of tin atoms called stanene (from stannum and graphene) should feature, according to theoretical physicists, outstanding electrical conductivity around room temperature potentially making it a great interconnect material in future generation ICs. While it all is still in an early stage of development the chances are that tin, a neglected in high end semiconductor applications group 14 element, will be attracting more attention as the time goes by.

Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 07:48 AM | Semiconductors | Link is the personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. With over 35 years of experience in academic research and teaching in the area of semiconductor engineering (currently holding position of a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University), he has a unique perspective on the developments in this progress driving technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.

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