Discovery could enable low-energy electronics

Monash University

Thursday, 25 October, 2018

Discovery could enable low-energy electronics

A global research project led by Monash University has resulted in a breakthrough in quantum physics that could deliver electronics and communications technology with ultralow energy consumption.

Monash Associate Professor Qiaoliang Bao (pictured), along with researchers from China and Spain, have for the first time observed a difference in the physical and mechanical properties of polaritons moving along the surface of a van der Waals (vdW) material. Their discovery has the potential to deliver energy efficiency in information and communications technology — such as mobile phones and computers, which are currently responsible for up to 8% of global electricity use and doubling each decade.

Polaritons are a ‘hybrid’ particle that can trap and manipulate light within micrometre-scale structures. Typically short-lived, with lifetimes measured in trillionths of a second, polaritons — when combined with layers of atoms — can exert enough force to power a quantum computer.

“While such an effect has been predicted previously, this is the first time anyone has observed this ‘anisotropic’ movement of polaritons,” Assoc Prof Bao said.

“Polaritons usually move isotropically — or in a uniform direction — which causes a wasted dissipation of energy.

“The results are not only exciting from the aspect of improving our knowledge of fundamental physics, but could also lead to new developments in thermal heat management and quantum optics.”

The research was published in the journal Nature and conducted through the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technology, or FLEET — a collaboration of more than 100 researchers at seven Australian universities and 13 Australian and international science organisations. Launched in June this year, FLEET is driving innovation in topological materials and atomically thin, 2D materials to create ultralow-energy electronics that achieve zero, or near-zero, wasted dissipation of energy.

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