(May 24, 2016) Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have recently introduced a new method for doping to bring diamonds a step further as semiconductors.
Doping is a “process in which other elements are integrated into the semiconductor to change its properties,” explained Phys.org, and “because of diamond’s rigid crystalline structure, doping is difficult.”
But electrical and computer engineering professor, Zhengqiang (Jack) Ma, and his colleagues “have found a way to dope single-crystal diamonds with boron at relatively low temperatures and without any degradation,” reported Phys.org.
They discovered that “if you bond a single-crystal diamond with a piece of silicon doped with boron, and heat it to 800 degrees Celsius […] the boron atoms will migrate from the silicon to the diamond,” Phys.org reported, “It turns out that the boron-doped silicon has defects such as vacancies, where an atom is missing in the lattice structure. Carbon atoms from the diamond will fill those vacancies, leaving empty spots for boron atoms.”
“This technique also allows for selective doping,” said Phys.org, though “the new method only works for P-type doping, where the semiconductor is doped with an element that provides positive charge carriers (in this case, the absence of electrons, called holes).”
Diamonds are a near-perfect choice for power electronics. According to Phys.org, “They are thermally conductive, which means diamond-based devices would dissipate heat quickly and easily, foregoing the need for bulky and expensive methods for cooling. Diamond can also handle high voltages and power. Electrical currents also flow through diamonds quickly, meaning the material would make for energy efficient devices.”
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