Scientists have developed a synthetic material design that can control the temperature at which a material can overcome electronic “traffic jams,” a transition from an electrical insulator to a conductor, setting the ground for an electronic switch that is more efficient than a transistor.

Generally, most commonly encountered materials are either electrical conductors (such as copper or aluminum) or electrical insulators (such as plastic and paper). Correlated electron materials are such class of materials that undergo an electronic transition from an insulator to a metal. However, these transitions work as a function of temperature, making them less useful in devices such as an electronic switch, which usually operates at a constant temperature (usually room temperature). Further, these transitions occur at a temperature that might not be relevant for room temperature operation.

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in collaboration with scientists from Japan, Denmark, and the United States have proposed a synthetic material design that enables them to control the temperature at which the transition occurs. The teams of scientists, including Prof. Naga Phani and his colleagues at the solid state and structural chemistry unit, at IISc Bangalore, proposed and demonstrated a three-layer structure that comprises of an ‘active’ channel layer that undergoes the metal to insulator transition, a charge reservoir layer that can ‘drip’ electrons into the active layer and control the temperature at which the transition occurs, a charge-regulating spacer layer between the active layer and the reservoir layer which regulates the flow (or ‘drip’) of electrons from the reservoir layer to the active

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