Switching the State of Matter May Provide a Novel Building Block for Ultra Low Power Devices

Sixty years after the transistor began a technological revolution that transformed nearly every aspect of our daily lives,

A New transistor brings innovations that may help to do so again.

The device uses the electrostatic accumulation of electrical charge on the surface of a strongly-correlated material to trigger bulk switching of electronic state.

Functional at room temperature and triggered by a potential of only 1 V, the switching mechanism provides a novel building block for ultra low power devices, non-volatile memory and optical switches based on a new device concept.

After shrinking for many decades, conventional electronics is approaching quantum scaling limits, motivating the search for alternative technologies to take its place.

Among these, strongly-correlated materials, whose electrons interact with each other to produce unusual and often useful properties, have attracted growing attention.

One of these properties is triggered in phase transitions:
‘applying a small external voltage can induce a very large change in electric resistance, a mechanism akin to a switch that has many potential applications.’

Advanced Science Institute have created the world’s first transistor that harnesses this unique property.

Described in a paper in Nature, the device uses an electric-double layer to tune the charge density on the surface of vanadium dioxide (VO2), a well-known classical strongly-correlated material.

A potential of only 1 V, they show, is enough to switch the material from an insulator to a metal and trigger an astounding thousand-fold drop in resistance.

The electronic phase, however, is not the only thing that changes in this insulator-to-metal transition:
Electric-field induced bulk transformation of this kind is impossible using conventional semiconductor-based electronics and suggests a wide range of potential applications.

First released over sixty years ago to little fanfare, the transistor has had a dramatic impact on our daily lives, powering the electronic devices we use every day.

The new switching mechanism takes this first discovery to a new level, demonstrating that a very small electric potential is enough to control macroscopic electronic states and offering a new route to controlling the state of matter.l


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