Electronics manages our world, but electronics control our electronics. A research team at Ohio State University has found a way of simplifying how electronic devices use those electrons – using material that can serve dual roles in electronics, where multiple materials have historically been needed.
The team published its findings in March 18 in the magazine Nature Materials.
"Basically, we have found dual personality material," said Joseph Heremans, co-author of the study, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology in Ohio State. "Our concept didn't exist from the front."
Their findings could involve revamping the way engineers create all different types of electronic devices. This includes everything from solar cells, to the light emitting diodes in your TV, to the transistors in your laptop, and to the light sensors in your smartphone camera.
These are the building blocks of electricity: Each electron has a negative charge and radiation or energy absorption can depend on how it is treated. Holes in the holes – basically, the absence of an electron -. Electronic devices work by moving electrons and holes – basically supporting electricity.
But historically, only an electron holder or a hole holder could each part of the electronic device operate, not both. That meant that electronics needed multiple layers – and multiple materials – to achieve them.
But Ohio State researchers found material – NaSn2Like2crystal, which can be an electron holder and a hole holder – possibly eliminating the need for several layers.
"This is the dogma in science, you have electrons or you have holes, but neither of you. But our findings turn up the face," said Wolfgang Windl, a teacher materials science and engineering at Ohio State, and co-author of the study. "And it's not that electron turns our hole, because here's the same assembly of particles. Here, if you look at the material one way, it looks like an electron, but if you look at a way t Another, it looks like a hole. "
The perception could simplify our electronics, creating perhaps more efficient systems that operate faster and break down less often.
Think of it as a Goldberg Rube machine, or the Mouse Trap board game in the 1960s: the more pieces we are playing and the more mobile parts, the less efficient energy is; n traveling through the system – and most likely is failing.
"Now we have this new family of layered crystals where the carriers behave like electrons when traveling within each layer, and holes when traveling through the layers. You can imagine that there might be some Unique electronic devices you could create, "said Joshua Goldberger, chemistry and biochemistry associate professor at Ohio State.
The researchers named the phenomenon of dual ability "goniopolarity." They believe that the material acts like this because of its unique electronic structure, and says that it is likely that other layered materials could display this property.
"We haven't found them yet," said Heremans. "But now we know to look for them."
The researchers made the discovery almost accidentally. Bin He, a graduate student researcher in the Heremans laboratory, measured the properties of the crystal when he noticed that the material sometimes behaved as an electron holder and sometimes as a hole holder – something which, at that time, thought impossible science. He thought that he might have made a mistake, run the experiment repeatedly, and had the same result.
"This thing was that he had paid attention and did not assume anything," said Heremans.
Manage the flow of charge by controlling electron holes
Geometrical surface surface Fermi conduction cone dependent on axle in layered materials, t Nature Materials (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41563-019-0309-4, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-019-0309-4