Solid state electronics relies on the intentional introduction of impurity atoms or dopants into a semiconductor crystal and/or the formation of junctions between different materials (heterojunctions) to create rectifiers, potential barriers, and conducting pathways. With these building blocks, switching and amplification of electrical currents and voltages are achieved. As miniaturisation continues to ultra-scaled transistors with critical dimensions on the order of ten atomic lengths, the concept of doping to form junctions fails and forming heterojunctions becomes extremely difficult. Here, it is shown that it is not needed to introduce dopant atoms nor is a heterojunction required to achieve the fundamental electronic function of current rectification. Ideal diode behavior or rectification is achieved solely by manipulation of quantum confinement using approximately 2 nm thick films consisting of a single atomic element, the semimetal bismuth. Crucially for nanoelectronics, this approach enables room temperature operation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)