According to an innovative new discovery, when two oxide-based compounds, namely neodymium titanate (NTO) and strontium titanate (STO), are combined, they turn into a highly conductive material, which could dramatically enhance the efficiency of power transistors. Interestingly, the two chemical substances act as insulators in their original form, but become nearly five time more conductive than silicon when fused together.
Recently published in the APL Materials journal, the research was carried out by scientists from the University of Utah and the University of Minnesota. According to the team, the bonds holding the atoms together in the oxide compounds tend to rearrange themselves, such that the final product generates over 100 times more of free electrons as compared to traditional semiconductors. This in turn allows the material to conduct significantly greater electric current. Speaking about the find, Bharat Jalan, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said:
When I look at the future, I see that we can perhaps improve conductivity by an order of magnitude through optimizing of the material’s growth. We are bringing the possibility of high power, low energy oxide electronics closer to reality.
As the team points out, the breakthrough could pave the way for a new class of incredibly efficient transistors used for regulating current in a range of electronic devices, including mobile phones and televisions. Currently-available transistors rely on gallium nitride which, although highly conductive, is somewhat limited in its uses. With further development, the new material could serve as an alternative to gallium nitride in power transistors.
Thanks to unique properties, the STO/NTO-based substance could also be used as transistors for much smaller electronics. In place of an external power supply, for instance, a laptop could feature a smaller internal power supply, thus eliminating the need for adaptors and electrical cords. What is more, the material could help reduce overheating in electronic gadgets. More efficient transistors would mean that less power goes to waste, which will in turn lower the amount of heat generated as a result of wasted electricity.
As explained by the researchers, the new discovery could potentially bring about a substantial decrease in the electricity usage of gadgets. According to Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez from the University of Utah, however, a lot more research is required before the technology can become commercially available. He said:
It’s fundamentally a different road toward power electronics, and the results are very exciting. But we still need to do more research.
Source: University of Utah