Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The ultimate green technology

13.02.2017

Creating computers that use 10,000 times less energy

Imagine patterning and visualizing silicon at the atomic level, something which, if done successfully, will revolutionize the quantum and classical computing industry. A team of scientists in Edmonton, Canada has done just that, led by a world-renowned physicist and his up-and-coming protégé.


The University of Alberta's Robert Wolkow and Taleana Huff are patterning and imaging electronic circuits at the atomic level.

Credit: John Ulan for the University of Alberta

University of Alberta PhD student Taleana Huff teamed up with her supervisor Robert Wolkow to channel a technique called atomic force microscopy--or AFM--to pattern and image electronic circuits at the atomic level. This is the first time the powerful technique has been applied to atom-scale fabrication and imaging of a silicon surface, notoriously difficult because the act of applying the technique risks damaging the silicon. However, the reward is worth the risk, because this level of control could stimulate the revolution of the technology industry.

"It's kind of like braille," explains Huff. "You bring the atomically sharp tip really close to the sample surface to simply feel the atoms by using the forces that naturally exist among all materials."

One of the problems with working at the atomic scale is the risk of perturbing the thing you are measuring by the act of measuring it. Huff, Wolkow, and their research collaborators have largely overcome those problems and as a result can now build by moving individual atoms around: most importantly, those atomically defined structures result in a new level of control over single electrons.

This is the first time that the powerful AFM technique has been shown to see not only the silicon atoms but also the electronic bonds between those atoms. Central to the technique is a powerful new computational approach that analyzes and verifies the identity of the atoms and bonds seen in the images.

"We couldn't have performed these new and demanding computations without the support of Compute Canada. This combined computation and measurement approach succeeds in creating a foundation for a whole new generation of both classical and quantum computing architectures," says Wolkow.

He has his long-term sights set on making ultra-fast and ultra-low-power silicon-based circuits, potentially consuming ten thousand times less power than what is on the market.

"Imagine instead of your phone battery lasting a day that it could last weeks at a time, because you're only using a couple of electrons per computational pattern," says Huff, who explains that the precision of the work will allow the group and potential industry investors to geometrically pattern atoms to make just about any kind of logic structure imaginable.

This hands-on work was exactly what drew the self-described Canadian-by-birth American-by-personality to condensed matter physics in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science. Following undergraduate work in astrophysics--and an internship at NASA--Huff felt the urge to get more tangible with her graduate work.

(With hobbies that include power lifting and motorcycle restoration, she comes by the desire for tangibility quite honestly.) "I wanted something that I could touch, something that was going to be a physical product I could work with right away," says Huff.

And in terms of who she wanted to work with, she went straight to the top, seeking out Wolkow, renowned the world over for his work with quantum dots, dangling bonds, and industry-pushing work on atomic-scale science. "He just has such passion and conviction for what he does," she continues. "With Bob, it's like, 'we're going to change the world.' I find that really inspiring," says Huff.

"Taleana has the passion and the drive to get very challenging things done. She now has understanding and skills that are truly unique in the world giving us a great advantage in the field," says Wolkow. "We just need to work on her taste in music," he adds with a laugh.

The group's latest research findings, "Possible observation of chemical bond contrast in AFM images of a hydrogen terminated silicon surface" were published in the February 13, 2017 issue of Nature Communications.

Media Contact

Jennifer Pascoe
jennifer.pascoe@ualberta.ca
780-492-8813

 @ualberta

http://www.ualberta.ca 

Jennifer Pascoe | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Agricultural insecticide contamination threatens U.S. surface water integrity at the national scale
06.12.2018 | Universität Koblenz-Landau

nachricht Improving hydropower through long-range drought forecasts
06.12.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor

11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Topological material switched off and on for the first time

11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs

11.12.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>