Scientists Create First Reconfigurable Nanoscale Devices

Scientists Create First Reconfigurable Nanoscale Devices
Scientists Create First Reconfigurable Nanoscale Devices

In devices like cell phones, nanoscale electrical components are solid, inert objects, and once created and assembled, they cannot be transformed into something different. But physics researchers at the University of California, Irvine have found tiny objects that, despite being solid, can turn into a variety of shapes and sizes.

Atomic Scale Quantum Materials

This discovery has the potential to dramatically change both how atomic-scale quantum materials are studied by scientists and the nature of electrical gadgets. Science Advances published this study.

According to Javier Sanchez-Yamagishi, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, "what we found is that you can make nanoscale electronic devices for a given set of materials that don't stick together." The ability of the parts to move allows us to change the size and shape of a device after it has been created.

Similar to refrigerator door magnets, electronics that stick but can be rearranged to your desired configuration are interchangeable. According to Ian Sequeira, a doctoral student in Sanchez-Yamagishi's lab, "the significance of this research is that it demonstrates a new property that can be exploited in these materials that allows for the realization of fundamentally different kinds of device architectures, including the mechanical reconfiguration of parts of a circuit."

According to Sanchez-Yamagishi, if it sounds like science fiction, it's because, until recently, scientists didn't believe such a thing was even conceivable.

In fact, what Sanchez-Yamagishi and his team—including UCI PhD student Andrew Barabas—finally found wasn't even what they were looking for.

Sanchez-Yamagishi said, “Obviously, that's not what we originally planned to do. We had assumed that everything would be static, but when we tried to measure it and accidentally bumped into the object, we discovered that it was moving.

They observed precisely that on certain crystals, known as van der Waals materials, tiny nanoscale gold wires could slide with extremely little friction.

Single Atom Thick Graphene Sheets

Using single-atom-thick sheets of graphene attached to gold wires, they created electronic devices that could be instantly reconfigured in a variety of different ways, taking advantage of these slippery surfaces.

Gold is often found in electronic components because of how effectively it conducts electricity. But it's unclear how this discovery will affect businesses using such tools.

Although it's a concept that could one day have an impact on the industry, Sanchez-Yamagishi noted that the initial narrative focused more on fundamental science. “This helps the idea grow.”

The team envisions their work could herald a new stage in quantum scientific research.

According to Sanchez-Yamagishi, it “can fundamentally change the way people do research in this field.”

“Researchers dream of having flexibility and control in their experiments, but there are a lot of limitations when dealing with nanoscale materials. Our findings show that what was previously believed to be fixed and static can actually be made flexible and dynamic.


Günceleme: 18/04/2023 23:36

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