Queen’s researchers have discovered a new way to create extremely thin electrically conducting sheets, which could revolutionise the tiny electronic devices that control everything from smart phones to banking and medical technology.
Through nanotechnology, physicists Dr Raymond McQuaid, Dr Amit Kumar and Professor Marty Gregg from Queen’s University’s School of Mathematics and Physics, have created unique 2D sheets, called domain walls, which exist within crystalline materials.
The sheets are almost as thin as the wonder-material graphene, at just a few atomic layers. However, they can do something that graphene can’t – they can appear, disappear or move around within the crystal, without permanently altering the crystal itself.
This means that in future, even smaller electronic devices could be created, as electronic circuits could constantly reconfigure themselves to perform a number of tasks, rather than just having a sole function.
Professor Marty Gregg explains: “Almost all aspects of modern life such as communication, healthcare, finance and entertainment rely on microelectronic devices. The demand for more powerful, smaller technology keeps growing, meaning that the tiniest devices are now composed of just a few atoms – a tiny fraction of the width of human hair.”
“As things currently stand, it will become impossible to make these devices any smaller – we will simply run out of space. This is a huge problem for the computing industry and new, radical, disruptive technologies are needed. One solution is to make electronic circuits more ‘flexible’ so that they can exist at one moment for one purpose, but can be completely reconfigured the next moment for another purpose.”
The team’s findings, which have been published in Nature Communications, pave the way for a completely new way of data processing.
Professor Gregg says: “Our research suggests the possibility to “etch-a-sketch” nanoscale electrical connections, where patterns of electrically conducting wires can be drawn and then wiped away again as often as required.
“In this way, complete electronic circuits could be created and then dynamically reconfigured when needed to carry out a different role, overturning the paradigm that electronic circuits need be fixed components of hardware, typically designed with a dedicated purpose in mind.”
There are two key hurdles to overcome when creating these 2D sheets, long straight walls need to be created. These need to effectively conduct electricity and mimic the behavior of real metallic wires. It is also essential to be able to choose exactly where and when the domain walls appear and to reposition or delete them.
Through the research, the Queen’s researchers have discovered some solutions to the hurdles. Their research proves that long conducting sheets can be created by squeezing the crystal at precisely the location they are required, using a targeted acupuncture-like approach with a sharp needle. The sheets can then be moved around within the crystal using applied electric fields to position them.
Dr Raymond McQuaid, a recently appointed lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University, added: “Our team has demonstrated for the first time that copper-chlorine boracite crystals can have straight conducting walls that are hundreds of microns in length and yet only nanometres thick. The key is that, when a needle is pressed into the crystal surface, a jigsaw puzzle-like pattern of structural variants, called “domains”, develops around the contact point. The different pieces of the pattern fit together in a unique way with the result that the conducting walls are found along certain boundaries where they meet.
“We have also shown that these walls can then be moved using applied electric fields, therefore suggesting compatibility with more conventional voltage operated devices. Taken together, these two results are a promising sign for the potential use of conducting walls in reconfigurable nano-electronics.”
The Latest on: Domain walls
- EY releases zero-knowledge proof blockchain transaction technology to the public domain to advance blockchain privacy standards on April 16, 2019 at 11:45 am
NEW YORK, April 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- EY today announced that it will release its zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) private transaction protocol into the public domain to help accelerate the adoption of ... […]
- Internet pioneer Paul Vixie: Build roads, not walls on April 14, 2019 at 5:53 pm
Vixie is best known for having designed and deployed numerous Domain Name System (DNS ... you're probably not going to get very far building walls. It's better to build roads," Vixie added. Vixie ... […]
- Politics and the City: Great Wall eatery next on WRA menu on April 13, 2019 at 7:04 pm
The owner moved quickly to repair the building’s back wall and by the fall of 2017 it was repaired and ... step in 2017 toward potentially taking the property through eminent domain when it had two ... […]
- Mike Eklund: Build a wall around Mar-a-Lago to strengthen national security on April 12, 2019 at 5:45 am
Dear Editor: You know, with the obvious lack of security at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort down in Florida, I think it's time for the U.S. government to use eminent domain to seize Trump's ... […]
- Field and Current Controlled Domain Wall Propagation in Twisted Glass-Coated Magnetic Microwires on April 10, 2019 at 2:09 am
Nowadays, the domain wall (DW) dynamics in thin magnetic wires represents an extremely exciting topic for both fundamental research and applications, mainly as concerns the development of novel, ... […]
- 'Wonderland at risk' from higher dam walls on April 9, 2019 at 11:01 am
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was quizzed about the proposed height of the dam wall in mid-March. "I ask you to rely on what's in the public domain - that's what we've announced (and) that's what's ... […]
- Modular Walls Market Analysis and Trends to 2025 | ALVO Medical, Doctorgimo, Edemco Dryers on April 9, 2019 at 10:06 am
Global Modular Walls Market Segment by Types of Products ... Our route-to-market analytics will help you to maximize your revenue generation. We have sufficient domain knowledge and expertise in ... […]
- 'Where would I move?': Tulsa homeowners voice concern about possible effects of eminent domain on April 6, 2019 at 12:17 pm
If a deal can’t be struck, they’ll take it through eminent domain. Tulsa World journalism makes a difference ... In the process, she said, homes and private businesses, including some on Black Wall ... […]
- Faced With Funding Deadlines, Santa Cruz Approves Use Of Eminent Domain on April 5, 2019 at 6:03 pm
As we have seen far too many times in California, eminent domain becomes a key tool for public agencies ... Imagine they take your kitchen, bathroom and a wall off your bedroom. Are you going to live ... […]
- Studying chiral exchange drag and chirality oscillations in synthetic antiferromagnets on March 28, 2019 at 6:30 am
In their paper, which was recently published in Nature Physics, they defined a new type of drag that involves the exchange of angular momentum between two current-driven magnetic domain walls. "In ... […]
via Google News and Bing News