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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T026200/1
Title: Low Resistance Contacts on Atomically Thin Body Semiconductors for Energy Efficient Electronics (LoResCon)
Principal Investigator: Chhowalla, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aixtron Ltd Cambridge Microelectronics Ltd
Department: Materials Science & Metallurgy
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2020 Ends: 31 March 2023 Value (£): 940,086
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Electronic Devices & Subsys.
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2020 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel March 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The high performance, at relatively low energy cost in today's field effect transistors (FETs), is achieved by decades long optimization of electrical contacts that has allowed the miniaturization of the semiconductor channel down to nanoscale dimensions. However, decreasing dimensions of the devices leads to power dissipation in the off state (leakage current) and other detrimental consequences that are collectively referred to as short channel effects. Emergent semiconductors, such as MoS2, that are naturally atomically thin can in principle mitigate several concerns related to short channel effects. In FETs with atomically thin body (ATB) channels, the charge carriers are confined within the sub 1nm thick semiconductor so that application of gate voltage influences all the carriers uniformly. This prevents leakage currents and allows the FETs to be sharply turned on or off. The fact that atomically thin individual layers of bulk-layered materials can be isolated necessitates the absence of dangling bonds in 2D semiconductors, which means that surface roughness effects are minimized. Recent research in FETs suggests that such ATB materials could be one pathway towards future energy efficient electronics that can operate down to milli volts using the current CMOS manufacturing platform. While the benefits of 2D semiconductor FETs in addressing short channel effects are obvious, they still possess lower performance compared to state-of-the-art silicon and III-V semiconductor analogues due the high contact resistance. To reap the benefits of ultra-short channel (sub 10 nm node) and tunnel FETs, contact resistances must be reduced down to the quantum limit. The contact resistance acts as a severe source-choke. This leads to degradation in the performance of the transistor, because the current depends very strongly on the effective gate voltage at the source injection point. The high contact resistance between metals and 2D semiconductors is a major barrier to their implementation in high performance short channel electronics.

This proposal aims to pioneer low electrical resistance contacts on atomically thin body (ATB) transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) semiconductors to enable the exploration of fundamental phenomena that is currently limited by poor contacts - with the motivation to understand key processes that underpin the behavior of short channel and tunnel field effect transistors so that devices with unprecedented energy efficiency and performance can be realized. The proposal builds on the our recent breakthrough on van der Waals contacts on ATB semiconductors published in Nature (April 2019) and strategic investments in the Materials for Energy-Efficient ICT theme at Cambridge through the Sir Henry Royce Institute. Our ambition is to realize low resistance contacts on ATB semiconductors that will allow a broad range of device communities to address and overcome the long-standing challenge of making good electrical contacts on low dimensional materials. The proposed work will underpin and impact ongoing programmes and initiatives aligned with several EPSRC priority areas. This includes adaptation of low resistance contacts for in operando characterization of battery materials using microelectrochemical cells and low resistance contacts for organic semiconductors and perovskites. This proposal aims to bring a step-change and establish an internationally leading programme in low resistance contacts for high-performance electronics based on ATB semiconductors that will add value and connect a broad range of communities. The proposed work will open up new pathways for achieving in-depth fundamental knowledge of physics of novel devices based on ATB materials to accelerate their development towards technological readiness and commercialization in higher value-added products.
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