How Can Nano Lead to More Powerful Technology?
Over the past half-century, computer manufacturers could count on processing speed and memory capacity to double nearly every two years, thanks to steady advances in the miniaturization of electronic components. But lately, the pace of these advances has been slowing as we approach the fundamental limit, with transistors nearing the size of single molecules.
With greater demand for miniature medical diagnostic tools and portable or wearable electronics, scientists like Dr. Dvira Segal, Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Chemistry, are looking for ways to give smaller devices a power boost. The challenge is that small devices rely on nanotechnology—the manipulation of atoms and molecules on a scale so small they can't be seen with an ordinary microscope.
The smaller things are, the more complex they become. We do not yet have a full understanding of how energy is transmitted at the nanoscale, but this knowledge is crucial for turning molecules and atoms into workable devices. To overcome this challenge, Segal and her research team are studying how electrical charges and potentially destructive heat are transmitted at the molecular level.
Segal is developing computational techniques that will help nanodevice manufacturers understand the basic laws of this tiny world. Her research will help establish guidelines that predict how well molecules conduct electrons and get rid of heat, which could lead to new principles for technologies.
Segal’s research into the dynamics of molecular systems could also result in important advances in communications, medicine, manufacturing and other areas.