The semiconductor electronics technology plays a critical role in enabling many electronic systems for computation and communication applications from computers to smart phones. The study of new semiconductor materials and the innovation of new electronic device concepts are of fundamental importance in developing the future generation computation and communications technology. The research activities in this program aim to develop the foundation of the electronics technology based on the emerging semiconductor material black phosphorus and related two-dimensional materials, which can benefit many transformative technological fields utilizing low power, reconfigurable and adaptive electronic systems. This project will develop a critical knowledge base for the study of the fundamental electronic properties of black phosphorus and the exploration of novel device functionalities for applications in computation and communications. Furthermore, the program will also offer valuable research opportunities for training the next generation workforce for the semiconductor industry by exposing graduate students, as well as undergraduate and high school students, to a wide range of research opportunities with both the university research facilities and the industrial collaborator. This project will also enhance the participation of woman and underrepresented students in semiconductor electronics research. The scientific results will be disseminated through the use of scientific community website dedicated to education and research, such as nanoHUB, to share the research outcomes with the general scientific community and made them available for educational use.
Recently rediscovered black phosphorus has shown promising potential for electronic applications. With its tunable energy gap, as well as strong ambipolar conduction resulting from its moderate bandgap (0.3 eV in bulk), the material offers attractive features for exploring new semiconductor device concept for electronics application. On the other hand, despite of promising potentials, major challenges exist on translating early science of black phosphorus materials into advanced device technologies. Novel device concepts unique to black phosphorus materials, as well as their fabrication technology, remain largely under-developed. Experimental demonstrations and design innovations of devices based on black phosphorus that may lead to novel functionalities, especially with re-configurability in its operational characteristics, remain rare. The objective of this CAREER program is to reveal the tunable electronic properties of black phosphorus such as electrostatic tuning of its bandgap and ambipolar conduction, and to build transformative devices for applications in electronics. The proposed research program includes the following activities: (1) utilize electronic and optical characterization techniques to evaluate bandgap tuning and carrier transport properties in black phosphorus, (2) devise novel device concepts, leveraging tunable properties in black phosphorus, such as the ambipolar conduction, and (3) benchmark black phosphorus device performance with the current state-of-the-art, and evaluate the new functionalities these devices can enable, (4) develop theoretical device models to predict and guide basic device physics research.