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Nano Electronics

Princeton University_051118
(Princeton University)

Nanoelectronics: Nanotechnology in Electronics

Nanoelectronics covers a diverse set of devices and materials, with the common characteristic that they are so small that physical effects alter the materials' properties on a nanoscale - inter-atomic interactions and quantum mechanical properties play a significant role in the workings of these devices.  

At the nanoscale, new phenomena take precedence over those that hold sway in the macro-world. Quantum effects such as tunneling and atomistic disorder dominate the characteristics of these nanoscale devices.

The first transistors built in 1947 were over 1 centimeter in size; the smallest working transistor today is 7 nanometers long – over 1.4 million times smaller (1 cm equals 10 million nanometers). The result of these efforts are billion-transistor processors where, once industry embraces 7nm manufacturing techniques, 20 billion transistor-based circuits are integrated into a single chip.


- Nanodevices and Microsystems Research

Electronic devices have been getting smaller for many years. The use of nanomaterials in electronics has opened the scope of the field, and smaller devices than ever before are now possible due to new nanomaterials being created alongside new advances in nanoscale fabrication techniques and nanoscale patterning techniques. 

There is a huge drive to reduce the size of electronic devices in today’s consumer world whilst keeping the same levels of efficiency -- or in many cases, higher efficiency levels. There are limits as to how small devices can be made using top-down etching and lithography techniques -- although they do have their place in nanoelectronics as efficient ways of patterning the materials used in said devices.

In order to provide new and increasingly powerful macrosystem capabilities for critical national systems, nanodevices and microsystems research is dedicated to improving the understanding of physical phenomena in the quantum-to-microscale continuum, creating novel nano- and microscale devices, and realizing new integration methods and realize novel nano- and micro-devices. Complex systems based on microsystems.

The following are methods for the study of nanodevices and microsystems:

  • Secure, Trusted Microelectronics: Enabling the understanding and creation of disruption-resistant microelectronics through the development of novel concepts, devices, and diagnostic tools. 
  • Beyond Moore Technologies: Continuing performance improvements beyond Moore's Law by developing nano- and microscale concepts, devices and systems. 
  • Future Optoelectronics: Delivering new capabilities by discovering and creating advanced optoelectronics at the nano and microscale. 
  • Ultraportable Multifunctional Sensor Systems: By developing nano- and microscale concepts, devices, and systems to enable portable chemical, biological, radiation, nuclear material, and explosive detection beyond current limitations in selectivity, sensitivity, and robustness. 
  • Nanoscale and Microscale Performance: Deliver new functions and performance due to nanoscale and microscale phenomena.

- Optoelectronics 

Emerging technology focused on light-detecting devices. Optoelectronics is the study and application of light-emitting or light-detecting devices. It is widely considered a sub-discipline of photonics. Photonics refers to the study and application of the physical science of light. 

Optoelectronics is quickly becoming a fast emerging technology field that consists of applying electronic devices to sourcing, detection, and control of light. These devices can be a part of many applications like military services, automatic access control systems, telecommunications, medical equipment, and more.


- Displays

Display technologies can be grouped into three broad technology areas; Organic LEDs, electronic paper and other devices intended to show still images, and Field Emission Displays. 

Today’s use of desktop computer monitors is radically different from that of yesterday’s all-purpose passive display devices. Current uses have expanded into specialized fields, along with the technology of the displays themselves. 

Many computer monitors use a liquid crystal display (LCD). Although LCD monitors are called by a variety of names, the technology is essentially the same in that the pixels need to be illuminated by an external light source. Today’s LCD monitors predominantly use bright, light-emitting diodes (LED) for illumination, and for that reason are sometimes dubbed “LED monitors.”


Lake Quill_New Zealand_012521A
[Lake Quill - New Zealand - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Spintronics

Spintronics is the use of a fundamental property of particles known as spin for information processing. In many ways, spintronics is analogous to electronics, which instead uses the electrical charge on an electron. Carrying information in both the charge and spin of an electron potentially offers devices with a greater diversity of functionality. 

Spintronics has several advantages over conventional electronics. Electronics require specialised semiconductor materials in order to control the flow of charge through the transistors. But spin can be measured very simply in common metals such as copper or aluminium. Less energy is needed to change spin than to generate a current to maintain electron charges in a device, so spintronics devices use less power


- Wearable, Flexible Electronics

Wearables are fabrics that enable electronic components such as sensors, heaters, lights, and electronics to be embedded in them.  Because of the ability of the ink and substrate to flex and stretch, embedded sensors and circuits will conform to the body’s curvature and not hinder movement. Since these sensors are printed on thin films, very little weight is added to the fabric through the incorporation of this exciting new technology. Circuits are printed on thin substrates that can be heat transferred to textiles using traditional equipment in the garment decorating industry.

Other Names for Wearables include: Electronic Textiles, E-Textiles, Wearable Technology, Smart Garments, Smart Clothing, Smart Textiles, and Smart Fabrics.

Technologies that can be integrated into wearables include:

  • Printed Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heaters
  • Printed conductive BUS system for connecting power sources, sensors, heaters, etc.
  • Electrocardiography (ECG / EKG) printed sensors for heart rate monitoring
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) printed sensors for monitoring brain activity
  • Surface Electromyography (sEMG) printed sensors for monitoring muscle activity
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), often called “e-STIM” or “TENS”
  • Printed sensors for monitoring respiratory rate
  • Temperature Sensing

All of the technology mentioned can be Internet of Things (IoT) compatible.  The Apparel and Healthcare industries have widely adopted this technology while the Automotive, Aerospace, Military, and Safety markets are already in the feasibility and development phases.


- Nanoelectronics in Energy

Nanoscale technology looks promising as a major contributor to advancements needed to fulfill the potential of emerging sources of clean, renewable energy. Progress in the comparatively new area of nanoelectronics in particular could be the basis for new manufacturing processes and devices to make renewable energy systems and technologies more efficient and cost-effective. 

Nanotechnology is advancing so rapidly these days that it seems there is a new nanotech breakthrough being reported on a daily basis.  Top researchers from around the world are using nanotechnology to solve problems once considered impossible, and are even discovering new and interesting properties in our material reality along the way.


- Molecular Electronics

Molecular electronics is the use of molecules as the primary building block for electronic circuitry. A molecular approach, it is hoped, will enable the construction of much smaller circuits than is currently possible using the more conventional semiconductors such as silicon. The motion of the electrons in such devices is inherently governed by quantum mechanics.


[More to come ...]



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