When we communicate with others over wireless networks, information is sent to data centers where it is collected, stored, processed, and distributed. As the use of computational power continues to grow, it is on its way to becoming the main source of energy consumption in this century. Memory and logic are physically separated in most modern computers, so the interaction between these two components takes a lot of energy in accessing, processing, and re-storing data.
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University is exploring materials that could lead to memory integration directly on top of a transistor. By changing the microcircuit architecture, processors can be more efficient and consume less power. In addition to creating affinity between these components, the non-volatile materials studied have the potential to eliminate the need to regularly refresh computer memory systems.
Their most recent work has been published in Sciences It explores ferrous materials that are ferroelectric, or that have spontaneous electric polarization that can be reversed by applying an external electric field. Recently discovered wurtzite ferroelectrics, which mainly consist of materials already incorporated into semiconductor technology for integrated circuits, allow the incorporation of new energy-efficient devices for applications such as non-volatile memory, electro-optics, and energy harvesting.
One of the biggest challenges of wurtzite ferroelectrics is that the gap between the electric fields required for operation and the breakdown field is very small.
“Substantial efforts are being devoted to increasing this margin, which requires a comprehensive understanding of the impact of film composition, structure, and architecture on the polarization-switching ability of practical electric fields,” said Sebastian Calderon, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. Lead author of the paper.
The two institutions were brought together to collaborate on this study through the Center for 3D Microelectronics (3DFeM), a program of the Frontier Energy Research Center (EFRC) led by Penn State.
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, led by Professor Elizabeth Dickey, was selected for this project because of its background in studying the role of materials structure on functional properties on very small scales through electron microscopy.
said John Paul Maria, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State.
Together, the research team designed an experiment that combines the strong expertise of both institutions in the synthesis, characterization, and theoretical modeling of wurtzite ferroelectrics.
By observing and measuring polarization switching in real time using transmission electron microscopy (STEM), the study yielded a fundamental understanding of how these new ferroelectric materials switch at the atomic level. As research in this area progresses, the goal is to expand the range of materials to a size that can be used in modern microelectronics.
Sebastian Calderon et al., Switching atomic polarization in wurtzite ferroelectrics, Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.adh7670
the quote: New Ferroelectronics for More Efficient Microelectronics (2023, June 9) Retrieved June 9, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-ferroelectrics-efficient-microelectronics.html
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