As part of its research on identifying potential replacement materials for silicon to enable faster computing, a research group at the University at Buffalo has created nanowires using vanadium oxide and lead.
These vanadium oxide bronze nanowires demonstrate exotic electrical properties, which enable them to transfer and store information at a faster rate. Under the exposure of an applied voltage close to room temperature, they undergo a phase transition from insulators to conductors.
The insulator and conductor states may represent a 0 or 1 in the binary code used by computers to encode information, or as the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions used by machines to perform calculations.
The researchers have reported their nanowires in the Advanced Functional Materials journal. Sambandamurthy Ganapathy stated that since these nanomaterials switch electrically between the on and off positions rapidly and repeatedly, they can be used for computing.
According to co-author, Sarbajit Banerjee, the voltage-induced phase transition demonstrated by these nanowires enables them to achieve higher switching speeds. However, Banerjee emphasized the necessity to study the health and environmental effects of these nanowires prior to their broad adoption as they also have lead content.
Moreover, the lead vanadium oxide nanomaterials show exotic electrical properties only in their nano-form. This is due to the fact that nanomaterials normally have fewer defects when compared to bulkier counterparts, explained the researchers. The unique structure of these nanowires is the key for their ability to transform between the insulator state and the conductor state.
Especially in the insulator state, the lead’s position in the nanowires' crystalline structure triggers electron pools to get accumulated at designated locations. The application of a voltage joins these pools together, thus enabling free flow of electricity through them and transforming the nanowires into a conductor.
The Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the National Science Foundation funded the study.