Jun 11, 2023

Novel ferroelectrics for more efficient microelectronics

Posted by in categories: computing, materials

When we communicate with others over wireless networks, information is sent to data centers where it is collected, stored, processed, and distributed. As computational energy usage continues to grow, it is on pace to potentially become the leading source of energy consumption in this century. Memory and logic are physically separated in most modern computers, and therefore the interaction between these two components is very energy intensive in accessing, manipulating, and re-storing data.

A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University is exploring materials that could possibly lead to the integration of the memory directly on top of the transistor. By changing the architecture of the microcircuit, processors could be much more efficient and consume less energy. In addition to creating proximity between these components, the nonvolatile materials studied have the potential to eliminate the need for computer memory systems to be refreshed regularly.

Their recent work published in Science explores materials that are ferroelectric, or have a spontaneous electric polarization that can be reversed by the application of an external electric field. Recently discovered wurtzite ferroelectrics, which are mainly composed of materials that are already incorporated in semiconductor technology for integrated circuits, allow for the integration of new power-efficient devices for applications such as non-volatile memory, electro-optics, and harvesting.

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