Because of its unique properties, vanadium dioxide has become an ideal choice to replace silicon for a new generation of low-power electronic devices. Swiss researchers recently demonstrated the application of vanadium dioxide to aerospace communications (600677) systems to achieve programmable rf electronics, highlighting the oxide’s potential.
Vanadium dioxide has phase transition characteristics and forms that can be converted between an insulator and a metal, acting as an insulator at room temperature and as a metal conductor above 68 degrees Celsius. This is because its atomic structure can change from a room temperature crystal structure to a metal structure at temperatures above 68 degrees Celsius in less than a nanosecond, an advantage for electronic applications. Research has led many to believe that vanadium dioxide could be a revolutionary material for the electronics industry in the future.
Releasing the full potential of vanadium dioxide will not be easy, however, because many circuits for modern electronics must operate perfectly at 100 degrees Celsius, which is too low a conversion temperature. In addition, vanadium dioxide is sensitive to other factors, such as electrification or terahertz radiation pulses, which may lead to phase transitions.
Researchers at ecole Polytechnique Federica DE Lausanne, Switzerland, previously raised the phase transition temperature of vanadium dioxide above 100 degrees Celsius by adding the rare metal germanium to vanadium dioxide films. In their latest research, they have made another breakthrough in rf applications, for the first time using vanadium dioxide and phase change switching technology to produce ultra-compact, adjustable frequency filters. This new filter is especially suitable for the frequency range used in space communication systems. The paper has been published in IEEE Access, an open source journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
This application breakthrough can also promote the application of vanadium dioxide in ultra-low power electronic devices further research. In addition to space communication, other applications include neural network computing for autonomous driving and high-frequency radar. Due to its huge application potential, this research is not only funded by the EU Horizon 2020 initiative, but also attracted the participation of several universities and research institutions including IBM Swiss Research Institute, Max Planck Institute for Computer Science in Germany and The University of Cambridge in the UK.