Vanadium dioxide – a revolutionary material for future electronics industry

Geneva, Feb. 15 (xinhua) — vanadium dioxide is an ideal choice to replace silicon for a new generation of low-power electronic devices due to its unique properties. Swiss researchers have demonstrated the potential of using vanadium dioxide in aerospace communications (600677) systems to enable programmable radio frequency electronics.

Vanadium dioxide has phase change characteristics, and its shape can be changed between insulator and metal. It is an insulator at room temperature and 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 when the temperature is above 68 degrees Celsius, and the transformation takes less than 1 nanosecond, which is an advantage for electronic applications. Research has led many to believe that vanadium dioxide could be a revolutionary material for the future electronics industry.

However, unlocking the full potential of vanadium dioxide is not easy, as many circuits must be guaranteed to run perfectly at 100 degrees Celsius for modern electronics, and the transition temperature of 68 degrees is simply too low. In addition, vanadium dioxide is also sensitive to other factors, such as electrification or terahertz radiation pulse, which may cause it to undergo phase transition.

Researchers at the federal institute of technology in lausanne, Switzerland, previously raised the phase transition temperature of vanadium dioxide above 100 degrees Celsius by adding germanium, a rare metal, to the film. In the latest research, they have made a breakthrough in the application of radio frequency, the first use of vanadium dioxide and phase change switch technology to produce an ultra-compact, adjustable frequency filter. This new filter is especially suitable for the frequency range of space communication systems. The paper has been published in IEEE Access, an open source journal of the American society of electrical and electronic engineers.

This breakthrough can also promote the further research of vanadium dioxide application in ultra-low power consumption electronic devices. In addition to space communication, other applications include neural network computing for autonomous driving and high-frequency radar. Due to its huge potential, the research has been funded not only by the European Union’s horizon 2020 initiative, but also by a number of universities and research institutions, including IBM Swiss research institute, the Max Planck institute for computer science in Germany and the university of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

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