Innovative bi dimensional materials might conduct electricity close to the speed of light

An unusual material named CGT could be used to build hyper-fast memory storage devices with the diameter of a single atom.
27 Apr 2017 – Seeker

Super-thin memory storage is just one of the potential applications arising from a series of three papers published this month by Xia and his colleagues, who are also probing the potential for conductive particles that move hundreds of times faster than electrons as well as ways to make hyper-powerful quantum computers more stable and useful.

“The general theme of all this work is the attempt to realize functional materials in two-dimensions,” Xia said by phone from his office in Irvine, California.

Interest in so-called 2D materials has been red-hot following recent breakthroughs in the study of graphene, an atom-thin layer of carbon 100 times stronger than steel and better at conducting both heat and electricity than copper.

Existing computer memory storage devices, however, rely on components with magnetic properties — and graphene isn’t magnetic.

Xia and his colleagues demonstrated in a paper published in the journal Nature that a single-atom layer film of CGT, which stands for chromium germanium telluride, has many of the same qualities of graphene, but is also magnetic. That opens the door to using CGT to create 2D computer memory devices.

“It would be very, very fast memory, and energy-efficient memory,” Xia said. “It would store information forever, whether or not there’s a power source. And it would be 2D material, so it would be the thickness of an atom.”

In conventional electronics, electrons act as message carriers, flowing through circuits at a speed of approximately one million meters per second (to be sure, electromagnetic energy itself flows faster still).

But Xia and his colleagues are exploring abandoning electrons completely and instead using different kinds of particles to transmit messages. One of those particles is the Dirac fermion, which can flow at 300 million meters per second — close to the speed of light.


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