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Room-temperature molecular switch discovery paves the way for faster computers, longer-lasting batteries

UQ discovery paves the way for faster computers, longer-lasting batteries

UQ researchers have discovered a “recipe” that allows molecular switches to operate at room temperature. Credit: The University of Queensland

Scientists at the University of Queensland have solved a problem that has frustrated chemists and physicists for years, potentially ushering in a new era of powerful, efficient and environmentally friendly technologies.

Using quantum mechanics, Professor Ben Powell of UQ’s School of Mathematics and Physics has discovered a “recipe” that allows molecular switches to operate at room temperature.

“Switches are materials that can switch between two or more states, such as on and off or 0 and 1, and are the foundation of all digital technologies,” said Professor Powell. “This discovery paves the way for smaller, more powerful and more energy-efficient technologies. You can expect batteries to last longer and computers to run faster.”

Until now, molecular switching was only possible when the molecules are extremely cold – at temperatures below minus 250 degrees Celsius. “Technically, this is a big problem,” said Professor Powell.

“By following this detailed ‘recipe’, chemists should be able to operate molecular switches at room temperature.”

“This will open the door to a plethora of technological advances, such as improving MRI scans that could lead to earlier detection of diseases such as cancer.”

“These materials could also be used for sensors, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fuel cells and as actuators, which can set electricity in motion, which would be useful for robots.”

“All of these applications require materials that can be switched at or above room temperature, which is why our discovery is so important.”

“Using these materials will also reduce the burden on the environment, as the energy consumption of computers will be reduced, contributing to the fight against climate change.”

UQ researchers will work with chemists from the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales to create new materials to test the new ‘recipe’.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society


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More information:
M. Nadeem et al, Towards high temperature-induced spin-state trapping in spin-crossover materials: the interplay of collective and molecular effects, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2022). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c03202

Provided by the University of Queensland


Quote: Discovery of room temperature molecular switches paves the way for faster computers, longer-lasting batteries (2022, June 9,), retrieved June 10, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-room-temperature- molecular-discovery -paves-faster.html

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