Washington, June 21 (ANI): You may see smaller, faster, more powerful, and less energy consuming electronic devices emerge in future, thanks to a new discovery by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Describing their work in the journal Science, the researchers have revealed that it involves a method to measure intrinsic conducting properties of ferroelectric materials, which for decades have held tremendous promise but have eluded experimental proof.
They believe that with this work, they may be on a path that will see barriers tumble.
"For years, the challenge has been to develop a nanoscale material that can act as a switch to store binary information. We are excited by our discovery and the prospect of finally being able to exploit the long-conjectured bi-stable electrical conductivity of ferroelectric materials," said ORNL Wigner Fellow Peter Maksymovych.
"Harnessing this functionality will ultimately enable smart and ultra-dense memory technology," added the expert who has jointly authored this study report with Stephen Jesse, Art Baddorf and Sergei Kalinin at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.
The researchers claim that this is the first time that any group of researchers have demonstrated a giant intrinsic electroresistance in conventional ferroelectric films, where flipping of the spontaneous polarization increased conductance by up to 50,000 percent.
Ferroelectric materials can retain their electrostatic polarization and are used for piezoactuators, memory devices and RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards.
"It is as if we open a tiny door in the polar surface for electrons to enter. The size of this door is less than one-millionth of an inch, and it is very likely taking only one-billionth of a second to open," Maksymovych said.
As authors write, the key distinction of ferroelectric memory switches is that they can be tuned through thermodynamic properties of ferroelectrics.
"Among other benefits, we can use the tunability to minimize the power needed for recording and reading information and read-write voltages, a key requirement for any viable memory technology," Kalinin said.
Maksymovych pointed out that numerous previous works have demonstrated defect-mediated memory, but defects cannot easily be predicted, controlled, analyzed or reduced in size.
Ferroelectric switching, however, surpasses all of these limitations and will offer unprecedented functionality.
The authors believe that using phase transitions such as ferroelectric switching to implement memory and computing is the real fundamental distinction of future information technologies. (ANI)