Nanotechnology clears the way to smaller and more energy-efficient electrical circuits

February 6, 2020


Researchers at INL have shown in a recent article entitled “Wideband High-Resolution Frequency-to-Resistance Converter Based on Nonhomogeneous Magnetic-State Transitions” how a single nanodevice can be used to identify the frequency of a microwave signal over an ultra-wideband, with greater precision than conventional electronics. This result demonstrates the potential for nanotechnology solutions to replace much larger electrical circuits with smaller, low energy, wideband solution.

The researchers can control the ‘state’ of a magnetic layer which switches rapidly (on the order of nanoseconds) between uniform and non-uniform magnetic configurations. This is the basis of a novel frequency to resistance converter which can operate over hundreds of MHz, and potentially several GHz, with sub-MHz precision. The authors demonstrated how, compared to existing conventional electronics, this emerging nanotechnology has significant advantages in terms of power consumption, frequency bandwidth, and size, and can potentially lead to new paradigms in wideband high-frequency signal identification.

High-frequency signal transmission and detection is the basis of many technologies, which we now take for granted in our daily lives, from wifi to satellite communications. Traditionally, this high-frequency communication occurs over very narrow frequency bands, which ultimately limits the amount of information that can be transmitted with each signal. Although wideband frequency technologies are relatively niche, there is significant potential for autonomous wireless sensor networks and on-chip communications, as wireless technologies become more and more ubiquitous.

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