Tag Archives: Switching

Snapshots of Ultrafast Switching in Quantum Electronics Could Lead to Faster Computing Devices

Capturing Ultrafast Atomic Motions Inside Tiny Switches

A team of researchers created a new method to capture ultrafast atomic motions inside the tiny switches that control the flow of current in electronic circuits. Pictured here are Aditya Sood (left) and Aaron Lindenberg (right). Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Scientists Take First Snapshots of Ultrafast Switching in a Quantum Electronic Device

They discover a short-lived state that could lead to faster and more energy-efficient computing devices.

 Electronic circuits that compute and store information contain millions of tiny switches that control the flow of electric current. A deeper understanding of how these tiny switches work could help researchers push the frontiers of modern computing.

Now scientists have made the first snapshots of atoms moving inside one of those switches as it turns on and off. Among other things, they discovered a short-lived state within the switch that might someday be exploited for faster and more energy-efficient computing devices.

The research team from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Hewlett Packard Labs, Penn State University and Purdue University described their work in a paper published in Science today (July 15, 2021).

“This research is a breakthrough in ultrafast technology and science,” says SLAC scientist and collaborator Xijie Wang. “It marks the first time that researchers used ultrafast electron diffraction, which can detect tiny atomic movements in a material by scattering a powerful beam of electrons off a sample, to observe an electronic device as it operates.”

Ultrafast Switching Quantum Electronic Device

The team used electrical pulses, shown here in blue, to turn their custom-made switches on and off several times. They timed these electrical pulses to arrive just before the electron pulses produced by SLAC’s ultrafast electron diffraction source MeV-UED, which captured the atomic motions happening inside these switches as they turned on and off. Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Capturing the cycle

For this experiment, the team custom-designed miniature electronic switches made of vanadium dioxide, a prototypical quantum material whose ability to change back and forth between insulating and electrically conducting states near room temperature could be harnessed as a switch for future computing. The material also has applications in brain-inspired computing because of its ability to create electronic pulses that mimic the neural impulses fired in the human brain.

The researchers used electrical pulses to toggle these switches back and forth between the insulating and conducting states while taking snapshots that showed subtle changes in the arrangement of their atoms over billionths of a second. Those snapshots, taken with SLAC’s ultrafast electron diffraction camera, MeV-UED, were strung together to create a molecular movie of the atomic motions.

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Lead researcher Aditya Sood discusses new research which could lead to a better understanding of how the tiny switches inside electronic circuits work. Credit: Olivier Bonin/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

“This ultrafast camera can actually look inside a material and take snapshots of how its atoms move in response to a sharp pulse of electrical excitation,” said collaborator Aaron Lindenberg, an investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. “At the same time, it also measures how the electronic properties of that material change over time.”

With this camera, the team discovered a new, intermediate state within the material. It is created when the material responds to an electric pulse by switching from the insulating to the conducting state.

“The insulating and conducting states have slightly different atomic arrangements, and it usually takes energy to go from one to the other,” said SLAC scientist and collaborator Xiaozhe Shen. “But when the transition takes place through this intermediate state, the switch can take place without any changes to the atomic arrangement.”

Opening a window on atomic motion

Although the intermediate state exists for only a few millionths of a second, it is stabilized by defects in the material.

To follow up on this research, the team is investigating how to engineer these defects in materials to make this new state more stable and longer lasting. This will allow them to make devices in which electronic switching can occur without any atomic motion, which would operate faster and require less energy.

“The results demonstrate the robustness of the electrical switching over millions of cycles and identify possible limits to the switching speeds of such devices,” said collaborator Shriram Ramanathan, a professor at Purdue. “The research provides invaluable data on microscopic phenomena that occur during device operations, which is crucial for designing circuit models in the future.”

The research also offers a new way of synthesizing materials that do not exist under natural conditions, allowing scientists to observe them on ultrafast timescales and then potentially tune their properties.

“This method gives us a new way of watching devices as they function, opening a window to look at how the atoms move,” said lead author and SIMES researcher Aditya Sood. “It is exciting to bring together ideas from the traditionally distinct fields of electrical engineering and ultrafast science. Our approach will enable the creation of next-generation electronic devices that can meet the world’s growing needs for data-intensive, intelligent computing.”

MeV-UED is an instrument of the LCLS user facility, operated by SLAC on behalf of the DOE Office of Science, who funded this research.

SLAC is a vibrant multiprogram laboratory that explores how the universe works at the biggest, smallest and fastest scales and invents powerful tools used by scientists around the globe. With research spanning particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, materials, chemistry, bio- and energy sciences and scientific computing, we help solve real-world problems and advance the interests of the nation.

SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

Switching to a new broadband deal? Full-fibre firm Hyperoptic has solved one major issue

Switching to a new broadband deal? Full-fibre firm Hyperoptic has solved one major issue
Broadband supplier Hyperoptic has announced a clever new plan to avoid one of the biggest hurdles when installing connections in customers homes – drilling unsightly holes in walls and running cables between rooms to find the best spot for the Wi-Fi router. It’s something all broadband companies have to contend with, although it’s something that crops up more frequently for broadband suppliers that don’t use Openreach’s infrastructure.
While you can switch between broadband companies that use the same Openreach cables (BT, EE, Sky, TalkTalk, and more) without a visit from an engineer or any fresh holes drilled into your home, suppliers that rely on their own cables will most likely need to connect-up your home when you take out a contract for the first time. Hyperoptic is making that process much less painful than it could be with its new “discreet cabling installation,” which now comes standard with its full-fibre service.

According to the broadband firm, which specialises in gigabit-capable broadband (that’s around 15 times faster than the average home broadband speed nationwide) in cities, using its new discreet option wouldn’t take any longer than existing methods. In fact, Hyperoptic believes it will speed up installation in some apartment blocks by as much as 50 percent.

As well as being used to quietly snake cables around the hallways of the building – something that Hyperoptic believes will be especially useful in apartment blocks without existing ducts or free spaces – this discreet cabling can used inside customer homes too. Measuring as little as two millimetres in diameter, a small drop of adhesive is all that’s needed to keep the cable in place, so there’s no need for eyesores like clips and fixings to keep the cable in place. Not only that, but as the cable is so svelte, holes between rooms can be hidden away in a corner or ceiling duct.

BT, Sky, and Virgin Media customers now get MORE compensation

Not only is this new technology – dubbed InvisiLight – much more aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also able to bend at 90-degree angles (allowing it to follow the corners of the room tucked behind a skirting board, for example) with no deterioration in broadband performance.

The in-home installation will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes, Hyperoptic claims.

Announcing the innovation for at-home installation, Hyperoptic Business Development Managing Director, Liam McAvoy said: “Deploying fibre inside buildings can be difficult and expensive. Our new discreet service is fast to install, practically invisible, and can be surface-mounted in hallways and between floors, to seamlessly connect residents to our gigabit-enabled services. We’re committed to providing a best-in-class service that enables us to go beyond the expected for our 250 plus developer partners. By using this new discreet cabling, we’re taking our installation experience to the next level.”

It’s worth noting that Hyperoptic isn’t the only supplier that relies on InvisiLight technology to kit-out apartment blocks and individual homes. Openreach, which has connected around 4.5 million homes to its ultra-fast gigabit-capable broadband, is using InvisiLight to tackle some sites too.

Hyperoptic – which only offers future-proofed gigabit-capable fibre – is available in around 43 towns and cities across the UK. It has connected some 400,000 homes nationwide, with a total of two million homes pledged by the end of 2021. A total of five million premises expected by the end of 2024.

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed