Stephen M. Wu, Professor, University of Rochester
As transistors continue to scale down in size, physical limitations from nanoscale field-effect operation begin to cause undesirable effects that are detrimental to the further advancement of computing. We explore an alternative to conventional field-effect transistor operation by using dynamic strain engineering on 2D van der Waals materials to induce electronic/structural phase transitions. Strain has long been known as a mechanism to engineer the properties of materials by modifying atomic interaction, crystal symmetry, spin-orbit coupling, and other effects. While it has been widely popularized in industry in its static form to enhance silicon mobility, using strain to dynamically control materials properties has been more challenging for 3D bonded systems due to substrate limitations and defect formation. Systems involving 2D materials are freed from substrate constraints and have high elastic limits, but have not been heavily explored for dynamic strain engineering due to the difficulty in transferring strain into a material that is weakly bonded out-of-plane. In this talk, we focus on challenges in achieving dynamically controllable strain in 2D-bonded materials and how these challenges can be overcome in a scalable on-chip device. We introduce one implementation of such a device using both static thin film stress capping layers and ferroelectric oxide gate-dielectrics. Here, MoTe2 can be reversibly switched with electric-field induced strain between the 1T’-MoTe2 (semimetallic) phase to a semiconducting MoTe2 phase in a three-terminal field effect transistor geometry1. Using strain, we achieve large non-volatile changes in channel conductivity (Gon/Goff~107 vs. Gon/Goff~0.04 in control devices) at room temperature. Using this implementation as a starting point, other phase transitions in 2D materials may be explored using this ‘straintronic’ device concept, which may enable low-power, high-speed, non-volatile, gate-controllability over a wide variety of exotic states of matter.
1. Hou, W. et al. Strain-Based Room-Temperature Non-Volatile MoTe2 Ferroelectric Phase Change Transistor. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 668–673 (2019).