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Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) published a study showing that this material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications. This mineral, which is abundant in nature, is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants. But it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics. One of molybdenite's advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, which is a three-dimensional material. Another advantage of molybdenite is that it can be used to make transistors that consume 100,000 times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors. A semi-conductor with a ‘gap’ must be used to turn a transistor on and off, and molybdenite's 1.8 electron-volt gap is ideal for this purpose. In solid-state physics, band theory is a way of representing the energy of electrons in a given material. In semi-conductors, electron-free spaces exist between these bands, the so-called ‘band gaps’. If the gap is not too small or too large, certain electrons can hop across the gap. It thus offers a greater level of control over the electrical behavior of the material, which can be turned on and off easily. The existence of this gap in molybdenite also gives it an advantage over graphene. Considered today by many scientists as the electronics material of the future, the ‘semi-metal’ graphene doesn't have a gap, and it is very difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material.


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