Detached approach to semiconductors

A method for releasing thin membranes of semiconductor materials from a substrate and transferring them to a new surface has been devised by US researchers. According to Michelle Roberts and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this advance could allow the incredibly diverse and useful properties of silicon and many other materials, such as diamond, metals and polymers to be combined. Writing in the April 9 issue of Nature Materials, Roberts explains how the detached membranes, just tens of nanometers thick, retain the properties of a conventional semiconductor wafer but gain flexibility. By varying the thicknesses of silicon and silicon-germanium layers, he explains, it is possible to fashion the membranes into curved and even tubular structures.