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!
How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology