With various industries working to find ways to make their operations more energy-efficient, a recent announcement from a team at Australian National University (ANU) presents a potential game-changer that will revolutionize the field of portable technologies.
Scientists at the ANU developed a data-transmission system that uses ultra-thin semiconductors. These could allow next-generation computers and mobile phones to operate more efficiently but consume considerably less energy than most models currently available.
What sets this new technology apart from the competition is that semiconductors use less energy by not giving off heat. As a result, it is considerably more energy-efficient than even the most green-compliant technologies presently being used.
Researchers combined electrons bound by electron holes (or called excitrons) with light into single atom-thin semiconductors to make this possible. The resulting material is approximately 100,000 times thinner than paper.
Based on the ANU team demonstration, this highly energy-efficient technology transports data in computers at room temperature through these atom-thin semiconductors. This may enable manufacturers to rethink the first step when it comes to creating new personal computers and mobile devices. Eventually, this could result in more sustainable production through the minimization – if not complete removal – of power wastage in the developmental process.
A Timely Idea
According to leader researcher Matthias Wurdack, a PhD scholar at the ANU Research School of Physics, computing technologies use up to 10 percent of the world’s total electricity consumption. This has come at extensive cost in terms of finances and environmental impact. The cost is expected to double with each decade if a more sustainable alternative is not found.
Wurdack added that their breakthrough essentially reduces the heating issue which has caused this massive use of electrical power at many of the world’s large-scale data centers, citing how this wastes a great deal of energy during operation.
The team at ANU has expressed hope that their discovery will lead to a new generation of energy-efficient and eco-friendly computing technologies along with a vast reduction in the use of energy across the globe. Professor Elena Ostrovskaya, a co-author of the study and chief investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics (FLEET), adds that the study also opens up several avenues for future research. Among these is the creation of more energy-efficient sensors as well as semiconductor-driven lasers.
It is also expected that the breakthrough may also reduce the need for coal-fired power plants and, in turn, substantially decrease the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by devices.