Silicon breakthrough could make key microwave technology much cheaper and better

Until now, this was considered impossible.

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High-frequency microwaves convey motions in an extensive variety of gadgets, including the radar units police use to get speeders and crash-shirking frameworks in autos.

The microwaves are normally created by gadgets called Gunn diodes, which exploit the extraordinary properties of costly and poisonous semiconductor materials, for example, gallium arsenide.

At the point when a voltage is connected to gallium arsenide and after that expanded, the electrical current going through it likewise increments – however, just to a specific point. Past that point, the present declines, a peculiarity known as the Gunn effect that outcomes in the outflow of microwaves.

Now, by using a powerful supercomputer, Daryoush Shiri, a former Waterloo doctoral student, showed that the same effect could be achieved with silicon. He has discovered a way to generate microwaves with inexpensive silicon. “

The new technology involves silicon nanowires so tiny it would take 100,000 of them bundled together to equal the thickness of a human hair. Using complex computer models, Shiri showed that if silicon nanowires were stretched as the voltage was applied to them, the Gunn effect, and therefore the emission of microwaves, could be induced.

C.R. Selvakumar, an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo, said, “Until now, this was considered impossible. The stretching mechanism could also act as a switch to turn the effect on and off, or vary the frequency of microwaves for a host of new applications that haven’t even been imagined yet.”

“Although, this hypothetical work is the first step in a development process that could lead to much cheaper, more flexible devices for the generation of microwaves. Now we will see where it goes, how it will ramify.”

Their work was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.