MNTL Hilights report web (Apr. 2016) - Page 16

ELECTRONIC DEVICE PERFORMANCE ENHANCED WITH NEW TRANSISTOR ENCASING METHOD While silicon-based transistors have been the foundation of modern electronics for more than 60 years, carbon nanotube wires show promise in someday replacing silicon because they can operate ten times as fast and are more flexible. However, they have an important gap to cross. ECE Professor Joe Lyding has created a more effective method for closing gaps in atomically small wires, further opening the doors to a new transistor technology. “The connection between the nanotubes is highly resistive and results in slowing the operation of the transistor down,” Lyding said. “When electrons go past that junction, they dissipate a lot of energy.”The resistance results in heat pooling at the junctions between the tubes, providing researchers with the perfect opportunity to “solder” these connections using a material that reacts with heat to deposit metal across the junctions. Once the current runs through, the deposited metal reduces the junction resistance, effectively stopping the energy loss. Lyding’s technique, which is transferable to conventional silicon transistor manufacturing equipment, involves applying a thin layer of solution made from compounds that contain the metal needed to solder the junctions together. “With [our] method, you just send current through the nanotubes and that heats the junctions. From there, chemistry occurs inside that layer, and then we’re done. You just have to rinse it off,” Lyding said. “You don’t need a custom, expensive vacuum chamber.” FACULTY PLAY KEY ROLE IN ENGINEERINGOPHTHALMOLOGY INITIATIVE Several MNTL faculty are involved in a new collaboration between the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the College of Engineering in Urbana. The Illinois Partnership for Ophthalmology Engineering will bring together vision scientists, clinicians, and engineers to address important unsolved challenges in vision research. During 2015, MNTL faculty and staff helped organize two meetings, where clinicians and doctors shared research interests and capabilities in retinal imaging, drug delivery, engineered surfaces for medical implants, minimally invasive diagnostics, tissue engineering, sensors, and neural interfaces. As a result, the three key units have requested seed funding from the university administration, which will facilitate the development of proposals to NSF, NIH, and DoD. In fact, an NSF NRT training grant letter of intent was submitted to the funding agency in November, and three more major proposals are in development. 16