(Phys.org) A novel electronic component from TU Wien (Vienna) could be an important key to the era of quantum information technology: Using a special manufacturing process, pure germanium is bonded with aluminum in a way that atomically sharp interfaces are created. This results in a so-called monolithic metal-semiconductor-metal heterostructure.
“Germanium is a material which is acknowledged to play an important role in semiconductor technology for the development of faster and more energy-efficient components,” says Dr. Masiar Sistani from the Institute for Solid State Electronics at TU Wien. “However, if one intends to use it to produce components on a nanometre scale, you run into a major problem: it is extremely difficult to produce high-quality electrical contacts, because even the smallest impurities at the contact points can have a major impact on the electrical properties. We have therefore set ourselves the task of developing a new manufacturing method that enables reliable and reproducible contact properties.”
This new heterostructure combines a whole range of advantages: The structure has excellent physical properties needed for quantum technologies, such as high carrier mobility and excellent manipulability with electric fields, and it has the additional advantage of fitting well with already established microelectronics technologies: Germanium is already used in current chip architectures and the temperatures required for heterostructure formation are compatible with mature semiconductor processing schemes.