Silicon stretch

Engineers and physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a method for measuring the effects of strain in thin films of silicon.

The development could lead to faster flexible electronics.

Researchers have previously been unable to fully understand why inducing pressure in the silicon increases device speed.

However, the process will allow researchers to directly measure its effects and could lay the foundation for faster and more flexible electronics.

The process involves inducing uniform strain on specially fabricated silicon nanomembranes in order to avoid the variations that make it difficult to study standard strained silicon.

The team then use an X-ray source at the UW-Madison Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC), which allows them to record conduction bands.

A monochromator is also used to study energy levels at a specific wavelength.

Using the same techniques for fabricating silicon nanomembranes, researchers hope to use SRC resources to study strain-dependent band structure in other semiconductor materials, in order to create more efficient electronic devices.