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August 9, 2023

Low Energy Electronics

Potentially revolutionizing the semiconductor market, NSF-supported engineers have developed a new high crystallinity, topological, semimetal material that can be used for a new class of high-performance devices.

Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation

Last year's CHIPS and Science Act authorized a historic investment in the U.S. National Science Foundation, aimed at strengthening fundamental research and domestic semiconductor manufacturing. We'll learn about a new material that may soon revolutionize both, on NSF's "Discovery Files."

Semiconductors are the technology behind computer chips, but as the United States works to keep competitive in the field, scientists and engineers are looking for new and more efficient materials to make these chips.

Using tools at the NSF-Supported Midwest Nano Infrastructure Corridor and the University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, engineers have developed a new material that may extend the lifetime of our electronic devices while lowering their energy consumption.

Electrons behave differently in this high crystallinity, topological semimetal material, opening the door to possibilities of a wholly different approach to chips leveraging devices that use the spin of electrons rather than their electrical charge as in traditional semiconductors.

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan: "Emerging technologies like nanomaterials are increasingly important aspects of security, health care, and smart living across the globe."

The material has the potential to create a new class of high-performance and low-energy consuming devices. With the industry-compatible manufacturing process involved in making the material, we could see this technology easily adopted for real-world devices in the near future.

To hear more science and engineering news, including the researchers making it, subscribe to "NSF's Discovery Files" podcast.

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