A team of researchers has discovered a way to cool electrons to -228 °C without external means and at room temperature, an advancement that could enable electronic devices to function with very little energy.
The process involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating.
The team details its research in “Energy-filtered cold electron transport at room temperature,” which is published in Nature Communications on Wednesday, Sept. 10.
“We are the first to effectively cool electrons at room temperature. Researchers have done electron cooling before, but only when the entire device is immersed into an extremely cold cooling bath,” said Seong Jin Koh, an associate professor at UT Arlington in the Materials Science & Engineering Department, who has led the research.
“Obtaining cold electrons at room temperature has enormous technical benefits. For example, the requirement of using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen for cooling electrons in various electron systems can be lifted.”
Electrons are thermally excited even at room temperature, which is a natural phenomenon. If that electron excitation could be suppressed, then the temperature of those electrons could be effectively lowered without external cooling, Koh said.
The team used a nanoscale structure – which consists of a sequential array of a source electrode, a quantum well, a tunneling barrier, a quantum dot, another tunneling barrier, and a drain electrode – to suppress electron excitation and to make electrons cold.
Cold electrons promise a new type of transistor that can operate at extremely low-energy consumption. “Implementing our findings to fabricating energy-efficient transistors is currently under way,” Koh added.
Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said this research is representative of the University’s role in fostering innovations that benefit the society, such as creating energy-efficient green technologies for current and future generations.
“Dr. Koh and his research team are developing real-world solutions to a critical global challenge of utilizing the energy efficiently and developing energy-efficient electronic technology that will benefit us all every day,” Behbehani said. “We applaud Dr. Koh for the results of this research and look forward to future innovations he will lead.”
Usha Varshney, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Engineering, which funded the research, said the research findings could be vast.
“When implemented in transistors, these research findings could potentially reduce energy consumption of electronic devices by more than 10 times compared to the present technology,” Varshney said. “Personal electronic devices such as smart phones, iPads, etc., can last much longer before recharging.”
In addition to potential commercial applications, there are many military uses for the technology. Batteries weigh a lot, and less power consumption means reducing the battery weight of electronic equipment that soldiers are carrying, which will enhance their combat capability. Other potential military applications include electronics for remote sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and high-capacity computing in remote operations.
Future research could include identifying key elements that will allow electrons to be cooled even further. The most important challenge of this future research is to keep the electron from gaining energy as it travels across device components. This would require research into how energy-gaining pathways could be effectively blocked.
Co-authors of the paper are Pradeep Bhadrachalam, Ramkumar Subramanian, Vishva Ray and Liang-Chieh Ma from UT Arlington, and Weichao Wang, Prof. Jiyoung Kim and Prof. Kyeongjae Cho from UT Dallas who also were part of the research team.
About UT Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.
Herb Booth | Eurek Alert!
Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy