June 10, 2023


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It may be the successor to silicon. It will take the technology of the 21st century to a new level

It is entirely possible that the increasing physical boundaries for the development of silicon-based technology will be pushed far into the future thanks to the use of entirely new materials for the fabrication of electronic and communication systems. We are talking about quantum materials, the capabilities of which are immeasurably greater than those of current technologies.

Researchers from Geneva, in collaboration with physicists from all over the world, have developed a completely new material, the structure of which makes it possible, at least in theory, to control the flow of electrons by bending the space in which these electrons evolve. scientific article It has just been published in a scientific journal nature materials.

Scientists have created a material in which the movement of electrons can be controlled by bending space at the quantum level. How is this possible?

If we want to precisely control the movement of electrons in matter, it will necessarily be necessary to prepare matter with the same precision at the atomic level. To this end, scientists have developed a system for producing materials at the atomic level using lasers. It is the lasers that make it possible to overlap successive layers of atoms in such a way that a certain arrangement of atoms in space is finally established. The exact arrangement of atoms in space determines the properties of the entire substance.

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In the case of the materials created at the University of Geneva, scientists have developed a material capable of processing electromagnetic signals on the scale of a picosecond, or more metaphorically, on the level of one trillionth of a second, or numerically 0.0000000000001 of a second. Of course, it must be emphasized here that materials such as silicon and other semiconductors currently used in everyday electronics do not even approach such speeds.

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Describing their invention, the scientists point out that electrons in a quantum material can intercept and transmit information-carrying signals, such as photons, and do so at frequencies that have never been used before. This, in turn, means the possibility of creating very high capacity communication networks.

Two layers of insulating oxides, and between them a layer of free electrons that carry information. Source: University of Geneva / Xavier Ravinet

However, quantum materials are about much more than just high speeds and higher efficiencies. Perhaps the most amazing thing about them is that which cannot be understood by intuition. According to the researchers, the electrons that move around in such materials evolve. The curvature of space created by such materials can be controlled, which is not found in conventional materials used in high-tech industries. However, to achieve this result, the researchers created a layer of strontium titanate using a laser and placed a layer of lanthanum aluminate on top of it. A thin layer of free electrons formed between these two layers.

Read also: Scientists have observed an unusual quantum state. This is the first such case in history

At the same time, scientists are cooling the fervor of technology enthusiasts. Yes, theoretical and laboratory work is already behind the scientists. This does not change the fact that it will be years before this material is used in applied technology. On the other hand, the same material opened the door for researchers and engineers to create new technologies for processing electromagnetic signals. Now, however, there’s another tricky ordeal: In the coming months, scientists plan to study the possibilities and limitations of the new materials. This does not change the fact that discoveries of this kind, which open the door to completely new physics, allow us to believe that the progress of science and technology is not so close to the wall. Perhaps at some point it will turn out that now the gates of completely new possibilities have opened, which will allow the creation of technologies that no one thinks of today.

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