Home / Dissemination / News /
Español     RSS

¡10 times stronger than a lighting!

The combination of a new kind of emerging materials, the complex oxides, with the recent creation of a new type of electrochemical transistors, have turn into a powerful tool capable of generating electric fields 10 times stronger than those of lightning. This discovery represents a revolution in the fields of nanotechnology and basic energy science, allowing the possibility to drastically change the behavior of a material just by applying an electric field.

19/06/2012

The combination of a new kind of emerging materials, the complex oxides, with the recent creation of a new type of electrochemical transistors, have turn into a powerful tool capable of generating electric fields 10 times stronger than those of lightning. This discovery represents a revolution in the fields of nanotechnology and basic energy science, allowing the possibility to drastically change the behavior of a material just by applying an electric field.

The research was carried out by the Group of the Physics of Complex Materials, in the Faculty of Physics, at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid within the Materials for the Future Cluster in the framework of the Moncloa Campus that, by using this transistor, they achieved the control of the transition superconductor-insulator just by applying an electric field.

Since ancient times, electrical phenomena have wondered, amazed and concerned the humanity. Striking phenomena, such as lightning, are related in all cultures with the manifestation of the anger and the wrath of some divinity. Zeus, father of all Greek gods, Jupiter, god of the Romans, or Thor, Norse god, were those who threw the rays from the sky after they forged them with their hammers on their anvils.

As time went by, driven by the technological progress, the study and control of the electricity became essential, as also became its supporting media, the conducting materials.

In addition to the well-known metals, which are able to conduct the electricity, and the so-called insulators, which are not, there are different categories of materials with different electrical behaviors, such as semiconductors or superconductors. Semiconductor materials have an intermediate resistance between metals and insulators and are the basis of current electronic technology, while superconductors are perfect conductors, able to drive a current without energy dissipation.

The presence of electronic devices based on semiconductors is overwhelming in our daily life. Millions of these semiconductor transistors are produced each year and are integrated in different devices such as cars, computers, and mobile phones which are essential for us. Without any doubt, the technological revolution of the last century has been possible due to such semiconductor materials, allowing the control and the development of devices as sophisticated as satellite navigation systems or touch screens nowadays in great demand.

The operation of the current transistors is based on the possibility of controlling the ability of semiconductors to conduct a current by using an electric field. Based on this simple principle, the recent development of a new concept of transistors and the discovery of other compounds beyond semiconductors, offers a double alternative and goes a step further, creating new and exciting challenges for basic science and its applications.

The idea of this new transistor is based on the use of an ionic liquid, offering outstanding physical and chemical properties. The polarization due to the free charge carriers in the liquid gives rise to intense electric fields even10 times more intense than those of a lightning. A new kind of emerging material, the so-called complex oxides, are in the vicinity of a metal-insulator transition and therefore are very sensitive to the action of an electric field. Thus, the combination of these new high field electrochemical transistors, with the high sensitivity to the field of the complex oxides, gives rise to surprising phenomena until now difficult to imagine.

These ceramic materials exist in a wide variety of electrical states spanning from insulator to the superconductor. Interestingly the most stable state (the ground state) is very sensitive to the charge density, a quantity changing drastically under the action of an intense electric field.
10 times stronger than a lighting

The ability to change the behavior of a material, from superconductor to insulator and the other way around, just by turning the button of the energy power supply is really tempting. Motivated by this outlook, numerous groups around the world have started working on the control of these transitions and their properties just by the manipulation of an electric field.

The research done within the cluster of Materials for the Future of the Campus of Excellence, Moncloa, has succeeded, using this transistor, the control of the transition superconductor-insulator just by applying an electric field. This project was carried out in the Group of the Physics of Complex Materials, in the Faculty of Physics, at the Complutense University of Madrid which has focused for more than 10 years into exploring the behavior of these complex oxides.

The manufacture of electronic devices based on these effects still poses great technological challenges, but the only idea of creating such intense electric fields at the interface between a liquid and a solid, capable drastically changing the properties of a material, is a concept that surely not even the ancient gods with their powerful lightning could have dreamed about.

Author of the article: Ana MMª Pérez Muñoz

Tag: Materials for the Future    Source: CEI Campus Moncloa

Event date:

19/06/2012


Picture of Science Outreach Awards
Photo gallery:
Science Outreach Awards


Ministry of Education, Culture & Sports CEI Campus of International Excellence Ministry of Economy & Competitiveness
Funded project by the Ministry of Education, Culture & Sports, and the Ministry of Economy & Competitiveness within the framework of the Campus of International Excellence
Navigating this website constitutes acceptance of the use of cookies by third parties and own, necessary for proper operation.