A three-year US-Ireland collaborative scientific project aims to reduce power consumption and increase battery life in mobile devices. Researchers will explore new semiconducting materials in the miniaturisation of transistors which are essential to all portable devices.
Leading researchers from the Republic of Ireland (Tyndall National Institute & Dublin City University), Northern Ireland (Queens University Belfast) and the US (University of Texas at Dallas) - each funded by their respective government agencies - are collaborating to develop ultra-efficient electronic materials through the UNITE project: Understanding the Nature of Interfaces in Two-Dimensional Electronic Devices.
UNITE will create and test the properties of atomically-thin, 2-dimensional layers of semiconductors called, Transition Metal Dichalcogenides or TMD’s for short. These layers are 100,000 times smaller than the smallest thing the human eye can see. The properties these materials have displayed to date suggest that they could facilitate extremely efficient power usage and high performance computing.
Tyndall’s lead researcher Dr. Paul Hurley explains that, “materials that we are currently reliant on, such as silicon, are soon expected to reach the limit of their performance. If we want to continue to increase performance, while maintaining or even reducing power consumption, it is important to explore these new TMD materials.”
The application of these materials in transistors could prolong the battery charge life of portable devices and phones, as well as having applications in larger more power intensive operations like data storage and server centres. This will have obvious environmental benefits through the reduction of electrical energy consumed by information and communication technologies as well as benefitting consumers.
UNITE builds on a previous highly successful US-Ireland collaborative project between these academic research partners called FOCUS. The success of this project played a role in demonstrating why funders should back the new project, including training for five graduate students in the USA and Ireland, as well as student exchanges between the Institutes, which will provide a broader scientific and cultural experience for the graduates involved.