Which electronics will be made with the new ‘electronium’ material?
The discovery of the new compound, known as ‘electrons’, is an important step towards making electronics with the right properties.
These new compounds are able to store more energy and produce more light, making them an ideal conductor for electronic devices, which rely on electricity.
“There’s a huge amount of research that’s been done on the properties of the electron and it’s a very important part of our electronics,” said Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Sydney, lead author of the study.
“We’ve seen that these materials have the right shape and properties to be a really good conductor, but there’s not enough research out there to understand how they’re being used in this context.”
The researchers have discovered that electrons are able, in a very specific way, to store energy in a specific configuration, called a phase transition.
“In a quantum world, if we want to do something that can have some sort of property, like do an electrical measurement or do some other kind of electrical work, we need to switch the state of the atoms in a certain way,” Dr Johnson said.
“When you look at the way that electrons do this, we think that it’s the same as if you were looking at a very short string of electrons.”
So, when you think of this in terms of the physical world, you think, well this is an electrical property of electrons, it’s something that’s inherent in the structure of the atom.
“But in fact, there’s a mechanism in our world where the atoms don’t just have this electrical property, but they actually also have this potential for storing energy.”
The discovery of a new type of electron, known by its acronym ‘electons’, was published in Nature Materials.
Electrons have the same properties as atoms, but are able at higher temperatures and pressures to emit electricity.
This means that electrons can be used in a variety of applications, from power generation to lighting.
“What this has shown is that you can use electrons to store very large amounts of energy,” Professor Johnson said, “and that’s an important thing because the energy you can store in a material is a very small percentage of the energy that you have to store in an atom.”
“What that means is that electrons have a lot more potential than atoms for storing a lot of energy.”
The new research we’re doing is looking at what these properties mean in the context of materials that are used to make electronic devices.
“Electrons were originally discovered as a type of single-atom carbon, but the properties they have now allowed the team to build up a theory that has allowed them to build a new kind of material called a carbon nanotube.”
Electrons are very good at capturing a lot energy and storing it in a single atom, so we think this is where the new materials that we’re building can be very important for electronic applications,” Professor Chris said.
This is what happens when you make an electron from a single molecule.”
It’s actually this very thin carbon nanostructure, which is the smallest atom we know of, that we can make,” Dr Michael Ransom said.
Professor Johnson says that the new discovery could help in making more efficient materials that could be used to manufacture devices in the future.”
They’re not only good at transferring electrical current, but also storing the electrical current in the nanotubes,” he said.
But it could also be used as a material for creating an electrode.”
For this we have to be careful, because this doesn’t necessarily work for a single-electron electrode, but for a couple of nanotubs it could be very useful,” Dr Ransom explained.”
One of the things that we are working on is actually building a process that could create nanotub-like structures, and then just take those structures and make an electrode out of them.
“You could use this to make electrodes in a future device that is a few nanotumps, and use this nanotuble to make the next-generation electronic device that we would need.”
The study is part of the $US1.3 million project led by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Science Foundation.
Dr Ransom says that while the material used to create the electrode is still quite new, there is a lot to look forward to with this new research.
“This research opens up lots of new avenues for the future, and opens up a lot for the next generation of research into this material,” he told Next Big Futures.