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Materials // Vanadium Oxide Bronze: A New Material for the Computing Industry?

Scientists create a nanomaterial whose unusual electrical properties could be exploited to increase computer chips‘ switching speed. University at Buffalo researchers are among scientists working to identify materials that could one day replace silicon to make computing faster. Their latest find: A vanadium oxide bronze whose unusual electrical properties could increase the speed at which information is transferred and stored.

In Advanced Functional Materials, the research team reports that they have synthesized nanowires made from vanadium oxide and lead.

The reason that these nanowires are so special is that they perform a rare trick: When exposed to an applied voltage near room temperature, the wires transform from insulators that are resistant to carrying electricity to metals that more readily conduct electricity. Each of these two states – insulator and metal – could stand for a 0 or 1 in the binary code that computers use to encode information, or for the “on” and “off” states that the machines use to make calculations. When exposed to an applied voltage near room temperature, these nanowires transform from electrical insulators to electrical conductors. Each wire is about 180 nanometers wide. © Peter Marley, with color added

“The ability to electrically switch these nanomaterials between the on and off state repeatedly and at faster speeds makes them useful for computing,” said study co-author Sambandamurthy Ganapathy, a UB associate professors of physics.

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