npj Microgravity

Editorial Summary: Electronic materials - Achieving a better mix

Low-gravity environments help to produce a semiconducting alloy with great promise for electronics, shows researchers from Germany.

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Jan 30, 2017
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Low-gravity environments help to produce a semiconducting alloy with great promise for electronics, shows researchers from Germany. Yuansu Luo from the Georg-August-Universität and co-workers measure the thermal properties of molten silicon–germanium during parabolic flights. Silicon is the dominant material in the electronic industry. Adding germanium, however, creates a semiconductor with even more useful properties. Producing high-quality crystals of this alloy is challenging because gravity separates the two elements when in liquid form. A low-gravity environment could help, but more must be known about the properties of silicon–germanium under such conditions. Luo et al. processed a silicon–germanium melt in an electromagnetic levitation facility in microgravity conditions, analyzed video images to determine its thermal expansion, viscosity, and surface tension and observed an alloying effect and a crossover phenomenon. The results pave the way for more detailed investigations on the International Space Station.

Taken from the Open Access article: Contactless processing of SiGe-melts in EML under reduced gravity

doi:10.1038/s41526-016-0007-3

Go to the profile of Jeanette Romero

Jeanette Romero

Communities and Digital Engagement Marketing Executive, Nature Research

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