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Virginia Universities Form Nanotech Research Center

Cadmium sulfide molecular model (NASA)

(NASA)

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, have begun a joint center to advance research in electronics based on nanotechnology. The Virginia Nanoelectronics Center (ViNC) will study properties of and develop materials at nanoscale, where one nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter.

Research conducted at the center is expected to help produce faster, smaller, and more affordable computer applications in mobile devices, computers, automobiles, and energy-efficient homes. Its goal is to break through barriers imposed by  current microelectronics technology, known as complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS.

ViNC’s first project is the development of information processing based on vanadium dioxide (VO2) as a replacement for traditional technologies. Materials scientists recognize VO2 for its ability to quickly change from a metal to an insulator, which takes place at about 68 degrees Celsius.

This unusual capability in a single material makes VO2 a prime candidate for advanced optical and electronic devices. The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab says the material is already used in infrared sensors. Other potential applications include lasers, motion detectors and pressure detectors.

ViNC is supported by the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, under the Semiconductor Research Corporation, which itself is funded by Micron Technology (that has a plant in Manassas, Virginia), Intel, IBM, Texas Instruments, and semiconductor developer GLOBALFOUNDRIES. Other ViNC supporters include the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium.

Read more: Nanotubes Reduce Energy Drain in Digital Memory

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