Vanadium dioxide—or VO2—is an interesting substance with a number of intriguing properties, including its propensity to switch from an insulator to a conductor at moderate temperatures.
"One application that has been already thought for this material is to use it as a thermographic coating for windows," Ale Lukaszew said. "Because if you have a material that becomes a conductor above some temperature, it means that it becomes like all metals—a reflector of light."
VO2-coated windows become opaque and reflective when they get hot enough, keeping the sun and the heat out. "That's a nice feature of this material," she said, "but VO2 also has possibilities for less pedestrian applications."
Lukaszew, William & Mary's VMEC Professor of Physics and Applied Science, is leading a group studying VO2 and other materials that have interesting applications for nanoelectronics. The William & Mary group is part of a new industry-academia-government collaboration, the Virginia Nanoelectronics Center (ViNC). ViNC is based at the University of Virginia; the partnership also includes Old Dominion University.
Research at ViNC will serve as the foundation for producing faster, smaller and more affordable components in everything from mobile devices and computers to automobiles and energy-efficient homes.
"This is a fantastic example of the kind of R & D partnership that will help propel Virginia to the forefront of the innovation economy," said Jim Duffey, Virginia's secretary of technology.
ViNC will bring together world-class researchers to explore and develop advanced materials, novel devices and circuits at nanoscale dimensions. It will operate under the auspices of the U. Va. Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research, or nanoSTAR, based at U. Va. All three university partners have worked closely with Micron Technology, Inc., one of the leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions with a memory chip manufacturing facility in Manassas, Va., to launch the new center.
"This new center is positioning Virginia at the heart of the development of a new nanoscale technology," said Stuart Wolf, director of nanoSTAR and ViNC. "This center could establish the Commonwealth as the 'oxide hills' rather than a new 'silicon valley.'"
Scientists generally agree that the fundamental limits of the current microelectronics technology—known as complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS—will be reached in about a decade. ViNC will develop novel devices and circuits for "beyond CMOS" nanoelectronics.
The center's initial project is the development of information processing based on VO2 in place of traditional technologies. This approach offers the benefit of smaller size and faster processing at much lower power.
Image:Lab work: Ale Lukaszew works in her McGlothlin-Street Hall laboratory. Lukaszew will join a number of other Virginia researchers in ViNC—the newly formed Virginia Nanoelectronics Center. While ViNC is based at the University of Virginia, Lukaszew will lead a surface-characterization team in a new lab in Small Hall here at William & Mary.
Photo by Joseph McClain
Source:The College of William & Mary
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