Producing quantities of semiconductors with high purity on the industrial scale is usually an expensive endeavor, due to the labor and energy-intensive processes required for annealing. Electroreduction is a promising method but has proven difficult to achieve continuously. Previously, vapor-liquid-solid and liquid-liquid-solid methods have been successfully used to synthesize nanomaterials, but require many steps of synthesis with conditions such as high temperature and pressure, which are often environmentally unfriendly.
A new method developed by UM researchers uses liquid-liquid-solid electrochemistry to deposit possibly unlimited amounts of crystalline germanium (Ge) without the need for a template. Moreover, control over the morphology and nanostructure of the Ge is easily accessible by tuning an electric field, allowing a wide variety of uniform films and filaments to be created. Contamination of the Ge by hydrogen is a non-issue, and crystalline domain sizes of 8 to 5 nm were achieved. The Ge films prepared thus far have low resistivities of around 0.4 cm, and are good enough for electrical applications. Should this technique be brought to market, it will significantly reduce the cost of solar cells and all other applications which require bulk quantities of crystalline semiconductors.
- IR/fiber optics
- Smaller, higher quality transistors
- Cheaper to manufacture high quality semiconductors