Diamonds can be the Next Best Semiconductors

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The demand for new electronics is unlikely to terminate, and almost every device or appliance needs a set of electronics that transfer, transform and regulate power. Now, scientists have taken a new step toward technological advancement with a novel method to dope single crystals of diamonds that is a critical procedure for creating electronic devices.

Diamonds have proven to possess remarkable properties that can make them suitable semiconductors. It is an excellent way to meet the increasing demand for more robust electronics that supply and convert power.

“We require such devices that can manipulate the power in the way we wish,” says Zhengqiang Ma, a computer and electrical engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Diamonds can cater as perfect elements for power electronics because they are thermally conductive, which implies diamond-based units would dissipate heat easily and quickly. It would avoid the need for expensive and bulky cooling techniques. Also, diamond can withstand high power and voltages. It is also a good source for flow of electrical current, and hence, offers material that can make for energy-efficient devices.

But the biggest challenge to using diamonds for this process is doping, which is a procedure that involves the integration of other elements into semiconductor that leads changes in their properties. Doping seems a little difficult with diamond due to its rigid crystalline structure. At present, diamond is being doped by layering it with boron and heating it to a temperature of around 1450 degree Celsius. But eradicating Boron coating at the end of the procedure is quite difficult, and also such a method works best only for diamonds entailing several crystals stuck together. It is because such poly diamond possesses irregularities between the single-crystals, crystals and would be exceptional semi-conductors.

Doping is possible by integrating boron atoms while enhancing the crystals artificially, but it also requires powerful microwaves that eventually degrade the quality of crystals. Now the research team has identified a way out to dope one crystal diamond with boron at extremely low temperature and without causing any degradation to its quality. The research team has also discovered that by bonding a single crystal diamond with a unit of silicon doped with boron and heating it to 800 degrees Celsius, which is less in comparison to the traditional techniques, the atoms of boron will voyage to the diamond from the silicon. It is identified that the silicon doped with boron has defects like vacancies, where an atom is losing on its lattice structure. The carbon atoms released from the diamond will fill such vacant positions and leave the space empty for boron atoms.

The novel technique works for P-type doping, in which the semiconductor is doped with a substance that offers positive charge carriers.

Conclusion – As per Ma, achieving P-type doping is a crucial step and may inspire others for finding solutions for the rest of the challenges. On a concluding note he says that at present, a diamond with single-structure can be very much useful and perfect for generating high power via the grid.