Team Taps the Power of Single Electron
Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use.
This technology, published online in Nature Communications, taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.
Researchers from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science found that by adding a specific atomic thin film layer to a transistor, the layer acted as a filter for the energy that passed through it at room temperature. The signal that resulted from the device was six to seven times steeper than that of traditional devices. Steep devices use less voltage but still have a strong signal.
“The whole semiconductor industry is looking for steep devices because they are key to having small, powerful, mobile devices with many functions that operate quickly without spending a lot of battery power,” said Dr. Jiyoung Kim, professor of materials science and engineering in the Jonsson School and an author of the paper. “Our device is one solution to make this happen.”
Tapping into the unique and subtle behavior of a single electron is the most energy-efficient way to transmit signals in electronic devices. Since the signal is so small, it can be easily diluted by thermal noises at room temperature. To see this quantum signal, engineers and scientists who build electronic devices typically use external cooling techniques to compensate for the thermal energy in the electron environment. The filter created by the UT Dallas researchers is one route to effectively filter out the thermal noise.
Dr. Kyeongjae “K.J.” Cho, professor of materials science and engineering and physics and an author of the paper, agreed that transistors made from this filtering technique could revolutionize the semiconductor industry.
“Having to cool the thermal spread in modern transistors limits how small consumer electronics can be made,” said Cho, who used advanced modeling techniques to explain the lab phenomena. “We devised a technique to cool the electrons internally — allowing reduction in operating voltage — so that we can create even smaller, more power efficient devices.”
Each time a device such as a smartphone or a tablet computes it requires electrical power for operation. Reducing operating voltage would mean longer shelf lives for these products and others. Lower power devices could mean computers worn with or on top of clothing that would not require an outside power source, among other things.
To create this technology, researchers added a chromium oxide thin film onto the device. That layer, at room temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, filtered the cooler, stable electrons and provided stability to the device. Normally, that stability is achieved by cooling the entire electronic semiconductor device to cryogenic temperatures — about minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another innovation used to create this technology was a vertical layering system, which would be more practical as devices get smaller.
“One way to shrink the size of the device is by making it vertical, so the current flows from top to bottom instead of the traditional left to right,” said Kim, who added the thin layer to the device.
Lab test results showed that the device at room temperature had a signal strength of electrons similar to conventional devices at minus 378 degrees Fahrenheit. The signal maintained all other properties. Researchers will also try this technique on electrons that are manipulated through optoelectronic and spintronic — light and magnetic — means.
The next step is to extend this filtering system to semiconductors manufactured in Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology.
“Electronics of the past were based on vacuum tubes,” Cho said. “Those devices were big and required a lot of power. Then the field went to bipolar transistors manufactured in CMOS technology. We are now again facing an energy crisis, and this is one solution to reduce energy as devices get smaller and smaller.”
Researchers from the Lam Research Corporation in California, Nankai University in China, the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Arlington contributed to this work.
The work was funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.
LaKisha Ladson | newswise
Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter
16.01.2017 | Washington State University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering