Washington: A new study has recently revealed that it may be possible to develop electronic circuits with reconfigurable pathways that will allow miniaturizing the electronic devices.
A recent discovery by a team at EPFL suggests as much. The researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to create conductive pathways several atoms wide in a material, to move them around at will and even to make them disappear.
Adaptable electronics is generating significant interest in the scientific community because of the many applications. Imagine for a moment that one single microchip was capable of accomplishing the tasks of several different circuits. For example, a circuit assigned to process sound information could, when not being used for this purpose, be reassigned to process images.
At the same time, it would become possible to develop resilient circuits. Whenever a microchip would be damaged, it could theoretically reconfigure itself so that it could still function using the components that remain intact.
Underlying this promising technology are so-called "ferroelectric" materials in which it would be possible to create flexible conductive pathways. These pathways are generated by applying an electric field to the material.
More specifically, when the electric current is applied, certain atoms moves either "up" or "down," which is known as polarisation.
At EPFL, the researchers demonstrated that it was possible to control the formation of walls on a film of ferroelectric material, and thus to create pathways where they wanted at given sites. The trick lies in producing a sandwich-like structure with platinum components on the outside and a ferroelectric material on the inside.
At this point, the researchers have tested their research on isolated materials. The next step consists in developing a prototype of a reconfigurable circuit.
The study is published in the Nature Nanotechnology.