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Nanotechnology Aids in Cooling Electrons Without External Sources

This chip contains nanoscale structures that enable electron cooling at room temperature.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a way to cool electrons without external means at room temperature.

Credit: University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington (UT-Arlington) researchers have developed a method for cooling electrons to -228 degrees Celsius without external means and at room temperature, a breakthrough that could lead to very low power electronic devices.

The new method involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating.

"Obtaining cold electrons at room temperature has enormous technical benefits," says UT Arlington professor Seong Jin Koh. "For example, the requirement of using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen for cooling electrons in various electron systems can be lifted."

Electrons are thermally excited at room temperature, but if that excitation could be controlled, then the temperature of those electrons could be lowered without external cooling.

The researchers used a nanoscale structure comprised of a sequential array of a source electrode, a quantum well, a tunneling barrier, a quantum dot, another tunneling barrier, and a drain electrode to suppress electron excitation and to make electrons cold. Cold electrons can be used for a new type of transistor that can operate at extremely low-energy consumption.

"When implemented in transistors, these research findings could potentially reduce energy consumption of electronic devices by more than 10 times compared to the present technology," says the U.S. National Science Foundation's Usha Varshney.

From University of Texas at Arlington
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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