Researchers develop energy-efficient semiconductor technology

Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a system to transport data using atomically thin semiconductors in an extremely energy efficient way. The breakthrough could one day lead to next-gen computers and smartphones that consume less electricity than current devices.

This development was achieved by mixing excitons, electrons bound with electron holes, with light in one-atom thin semiconductors, which are about 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.

This new, energy-saving semiconductor technology has shown highly promising signs of requiring less electricity to run by not giving off any heat, meaning no energy is wasted.

The research team is the first to successfully demonstrate this efficient transportation of information carriers, particles that can transport data in computers, in these atomically thin semiconductors at room temperature, which is a necessary first step in creating the computers and smartphones of tomorrow. The team hopes the technology could pave the way for sustainable growth in computing by reducing wasted energy consumption, which is a challenge facing scientists around the world.

“Computers already use around 10 per cent of all globally available electricity, a number which comes with a massive financial and environmental cost, and is predicted to double every 10 years due to the increasing demand for computing,” Matthias Wurdack, member of the ANU research school of physics, said. “Estimates show that our computing devices, the Internet, data centres and other digital technologies account for at least two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is similar to the aviation industry pre-COVID.” 

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