Novel Converter for Ultra-fast Data Processing at Nanoscale

Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster.

Novel Converter for Ultra-fast Data Processing at Nanoscale
A research team led by Associate Professor Christian Nijhuis from the Department of Chemistry at the NUS Faculty of Science (second from right) has recently invented a novel “converter” that can harness the speed and small size of plasmons for high frequency data processing and transmission in nanoelectronics.

Progression in nanoelectronics has been powered by the regularly expanding need to recoil the span of electronic gadgets in order to produce smaller, faster and smarter gadgets. All such gadgets mainly composed of photonics for data transmission. Those photonic elements are usually large and this greatly limits their use in many advanced nanoelectronics systems.

Plasmons, which are rushes of electrons that move along the surface of a metal after it is struck by photons, holds awesome guarantee for troublesome advances in nanoelectronics. They are practically identical to photons as far as speed and are considerably smaller.

Due to this unique property, they are ideal for integration with nanoelectronics. However, harnessing plasmons for data transmission had little success only.

To take full advantage of this technology, NUS scientists have invented a novel converter that harnesses the speed and small size of plasmons for high-frequency data processing and transmission.

Associate Professor Christian Nijhuis said, “This novel converter can directly convert electrical signals into plasmonic signals, and vice versa, in a single step. By bridging plasmonics and nanoscale electronics, we can potentially make chips run faster and reduce power losses.”

“Our plasmonic-electronic transducer is about 10,000 times smaller than optical elements. We believe it can be readily integrated into existing technologies and can potentially be used in a range of applications in the future.”

Usually, in plasmonics, plasmons are energized in two stages to generate energy. To convert electrical signals into plasmonic signals in one single step, scientists used tunneling process. Thus, electrons travel from one electrode to another electrode and energize plasmons.

Professor Nijhuis said, “The two-step process is time-consuming and inefficient. Our technology stands out as we provide a one-stop solution for the converted electrical signals to plasmonic signals.”

“This can be achieved without a light source, which requires multiple-steps and large optical elements, complicating integration with nanoelectronics. Based on our lab experiments, the electron-to-plasmon conversion has an efficiency of more than 10 percent, more than 1,000 times higher than previously reported.”