Scientists find energy-saving way to create next-gen microelectronics

Redox gating for carrier manipulation and electric field control of the electronic state. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

In the world of technology, making electronic devices smaller and more powerful is a continuous goal.

However, these tiny devices, known as microelectronics, face a big challenge: they need to stay cool while working hard.

Traditional electronics use a lot of electricity, which can make them hot.

To keep up with the demand for smaller, more efficient gadgets, scientists are always on the lookout for new methods to make electronics that don’t overheat and use less power.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered an exciting way to tackle this problem.

They’ve introduced a method that could lead to creating microelectronics that are not just smaller, but also much more energy-efficient.

Their findings are shared in a study published in the journal Advanced Materials, and they’re all about a new technique called “redox gating.”

Redox gating involves a special chemical reaction that manages the flow of electrons, tiny particles that carry electrical power, through a material.

In simpler terms, think of it as a way to control how much electricity goes through a device, similar to how a gate controls how many people can enter a park.

In their experiment, the Argonne team made a device that acts like an electronic gatekeeper. By applying a small amount of electrical pressure, they could make the device allow more or less electricity to pass through.

This process, which works even at low voltages, makes the device act like a switch that can turn on or off, or move between being easy and hard for electricity to pass through.

This new method is a big deal because it uses much less power, which means the devices won’t get as hot and will last longer without breaking down. It’s also exciting for scientists who are looking to build electronics that work more like the human brain—efficiently and with minimal energy use.

The researchers believe that redox gating could be used in a wide range of materials, potentially leading to the development of new types of semiconductors or even quantum materials. These are materials that could change the game in electronics by offering new ways to handle information or interact with the world.

The team behind this breakthrough includes scientists from various fields, showing that it takes a lot of collaboration to create new technologies. Their work could open the door to gadgets that are not only smaller and faster but also much kinder to our planet.