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New Quantum Materials for High-Speed Communications

Researchers from University of Geneva, Salerno, Utrecht and Delft have designed new quantum materials that can replace silicon in semiconductors for high-speed signal processing. The dynamics of electronics can be controlled by curving the fabric of space in which they evolve. The telecommunications of the future will require new, extremely powerful electronic devices. They must be capable of processing electromagnetic signals at unprecedented speeds, in the picosecond range, ie. one thousandth of a billionth of a second. The new quantum materials can capture, manipulate and transmit information-carrying signals (for eg. photons, in the case of quantum telecommunications) within new electronic devices. They can operate in electromagnetic frequency ranges that have not yet been explored and would thus open the way to very high-speed communication systems.

After an initial theoretical study, the international team of researchers from the Universities of Geneva, Salerno, Utrecht and Delft designed a material in which the curvature of the space fabric is controllable. Sculpting quantum materials for the electronics of the future An international team led by the UNIGE has developed a quantum material in which the fabric of space inhabited by electrons can be curved on-demand.

‘‘We have designed an interface hosting an extremely thin layer of free electrons. It is sandwiched between strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, which are two insulating oxides,’’ says Carmine Ortix, professor at the University of Salerno and coordinator of the theoretical study. This combination allows us to obtain particular electronic geometrical configurations which can be controlled on-demand.

To achieve this, the research team used an advanced system for fabricating materials on an atomic scale. Using laser pulses, each layer of atoms was stacked one after another. ‘‘This method allowed us to create special combinations of atoms in space that affect the behaviour of the material,’’ the researchers detail. While the prospect of technological use is still far off, this new material opens up new avenues in the exploration of very high-speed electromagnetic signal manipulation. These results can also be used to develop new sensors. The next step for the research team will be to further observe how this material reacts to high electromagnetic frequencies to determine more precisely its potential applications.

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