Updated: Apr 16, 2021
According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Sydney, they have created a technology that will extend the lifetime of electronic devices.
According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Sydney, they have created a technology that will extend the lifetime of electronic devices. This is a big step forward in materials science because it provides a complete image of the occurrence of fatigue in ferroelectric materials for the first time.
Ferroelectric materials are used in a variety of devices such as memories, capacitors, actuators, and sensors. These devices are widely used in both consumer and industrial instruments, including computers, medical ultrasound equipment, and underwater sonars.
Ferroelectric materials are subjected to repetitive mechanical and electrical loading over time, resulting in a gradual decrease in functionality and, eventually, failure. This phenomenon is known as 'ferroelectric fatigue.'
It is the leading cause of electronic system failure, with discarded electronics being a major contributor to e-waste. Every year, tens of millions of tons of failed electronic devices end up in landfills around the world.
The School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Mechatronic Engineering researchers were able to detect ferroelectric fatigue in real-time using advanced in-situ electron microscopy. This technique employs an innovative microscope to 'observe' at the nanoscale and atomic levels in real-time.
The researchers hope that this new discovery, presented in a paper published in Nature Communications, will help to improve the design of ferroelectric nanodevices in the future.
Professor Xiaozhou Liao, a co-author from the University of Sydney Nano Institute said , "Our discovery is a significant scientific breakthrough as it shows a clear picture of how the ferroelectric degradation process is present at the nanoscale."
Dr Qianwei Huang, the study's lead researcher, said: "Although it has long been known that ferroelectric fatigue can shorten the lifespan of electronic devices, how it occurs has previously not been well understood, due to a lack of suitable technology to observe it."
"With this, we hope to better inform the engineering of devices with longer lifespans," said co-author Dr. Zibin Chen. Herbert Kroemer, a Nobel laureate, famously said, "The interface is the device." The Sydney researchers' findings could spark a new debate about whether interfaces, which are physical boundaries separating different regions in materials, are a viable solution to the unreliability of next-generation devices.
"Our discovery has indicated that interfaces could actually speed up ferroelectric degradation. Therefore, a better understanding of these processes is needed to achieve the best performance of devices," Dr Chen said.
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Source - Hindustan Times