Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Semiconductors for Cool Computers

17.07.2009
Computers with no need of cooling? They haven't come into existence yet.

However, physicists of the University of Würzburg are paving the way for them: In the American scientific journal "Science", the researchers now present a semiconductor that transmits electric current without heating up in the process.

This new type of semiconductor consists of mercury telluride and mercury cadmium telluride. In a sophisticated procedure, the Würzburg physicists apply these two materials to penny-sized crystal wafers in alternate ultra-thin layers. "The individual layers are only seven to ten nanometers thin," says Professor Laurens Molenkamp. In other words, inconceivably fine: A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter.

Tiny wire fabricated

In order to analyze the conductivity of the layered material, the physicists structured its surface, using lithographic patterning methods. They sort of created tiny wires in a specific pattern, e.g. an H-shaped structure.

"The material was expected to become an insulator under certain conditions - at very low temperatures, for instance. All conventional semiconductors exhibit this behavior," explains Professor Hartmut Buhmann, who works in Molenkamp's team.

Material reacted in an unexpected way

The physicists were in for a surprise, when the material behaved differently: The electrons concentrated at the edges of the H-shaped structure. In addition to this, they were freely moveable there - without any resistance and thus without dissipating heat. According to the physicists, this characteristic is based wholly on the materials and the way they are layered. The form of the structure - whether H or X - is irrelevant.

Not yet ready for application

This new type of semiconductor is not yet ready for real-world applications, though. The effect described above occurs only at extremely low temperatures below minus 170 degrees Celsius. Therefore, the Würzburg researchers now intend to develop other materials, which produce the same effect at significantly higher temperatures.

"We are going to use bismuth compounds for this purpose," says Laurens Molenkamp. However, they first have to work out a procedure allowing them to stack these materials as well in neat wafer-thin layers.

To stay cool is important for computers

When computers are processing, they heat up. But if temperatures get too high, the function of computer chips is adversely affected, which means they need cooling. The cooling is provided by fans on board the PC or by air conditioning systems in large computer rooms. Some high-performance computers of today are already equipped with water-cooling systems.

So heat is a factor that considerably limits the development of faster computers. This is because more and more transistors, working ever faster, have to be tightly packed on the chips in order to reach higher levels of performance. "Consequently, a higher amount of electric current passes through the chips, inducing an increased heat build-up in the components," explains Hartmut Buhmann. Hence, the advent of components that conduct electric current without generating heat would be likely to give a big push to the evolution of computers.

Nonlocal Transport in the Quantum Spin Hall State, Andreas Roth, Christoph Brüne, Hartmut Buhmann, Laurens W. Molenkamp, Joseph Maciejko, Xiao-Liang Qi, Shou-Cheng Zhang, Science, 17. Juli 2009, Vol. 325, no. 5938, pp. 294-297, DOI: 10.1126/science.1174736

Contact

Prof. Dr. Laurens Molenkamp, Chair of Experimental Physics III, University of Würzburg, phone ++49 (931) 888-4925, laurens.molenkamp@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Buhmann, phone ++49 (931) 888-5778, hartmut.buhmann@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Robert Emmerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>