Researchers have found out that a kind of inorganic semiconductor that does not deform properly under light could bend as much as 45% from its original form in complete darkness.
The brittleness of the inorganic semiconducting materials results in their failure upon being subjected to external forces. However, tough, strong, and easily shapeable inorganic semiconductors are required in a range of electronic applications.
The deformation of zinc sulfide crystals under varying light conditions - ultraviolet light, white light, and complete darkness - were analyzed by Yu Oshima and team. Using microscopy, it was revealed that under both the light conditions, the inorganic semiconducting material instantly fractured when the scientists made efforts to deform it, as anticipated; however, the material was able to endure considerable deformation, of nearly 45%, under complete darkness.
The difference is the result of the nature of the flaws that occur in zinc sulfide crystals at the time of deformation. Through the cores of these flaws, light renders electrons and holes to be trapped within extra energy levels; the resultant motion from this energy and entrapment results in cracking. When it is dark, the electrons are trapped this way, thereby enabling the material to deform and go back to its original configuration.