New exotic material brings highly efficient computer chips closer to reality

June 16th, 2009 - 6:04 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 16 (ANI): U.S. scientists have confirmed that there exists a type of material that could one day provide dramatically faster, more efficient computer chips.

Physicists at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have revealed that this material is called bismuth telluride.

Lead researchers Yulin Chen and Zhi-Xun Shen say that the material allows electrons on its surface to travel with no loss of energy at room temperatures and can be fabricated using existing semiconductor technologies.

They reckon that such material could provide a leap in microchip speeds, and even become the bedrock of an entirely new kind of computing industry based on spintronics, the next evolution of electronics.

During the study, the researchers tested the behaviour of electrons in the compound bismuth telluride.

In the online edition of the journal Science Express, they say that this study shows a clear signature of what is called a topological insulator, a material that enables the free flow of electrons across its surface with no loss of energy.

“The working style of SIMES is perfect. Theorists, experimentalists, and sample growers can collaborate in a broad sense,” Chen said.

When Chen and his colleagues investigated the electrons’ behavior, they saw the clear signature of a topological insulator. Not only that, the group discovered that the reality of bismuth telluride was even better than theory.

“The theorists were very close but there was a quantitative difference,” Chen said.

The experiments showed that bismuth telluride could tolerate even higher temperatures than theorists had predicted.

“This means that the material is closer to application than we thought,” Chen said.

Topological insulators aren’t conventional superconductors nor fodder for super-efficient power lines, as they can only carry small currents, but they could pave the way for a paradigm shift in microchip development.

Chen said that for real-world applications, bismuth telluride is fairly simple to grow and work with.

“It’s a three-dimensional material, so it’s easy to fabricate with the current mature semiconductor technology. It’s also easy to dope-you can tune the properties relatively easily,” he said.

“This is already a very exciting thing,” he said, adding that the material “could let us make a device with new operating principles.” (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |