We humans have a boundless requirement of electronic devices and sensors. As a result, global scientists are inventing new methods to keep our gadgets working for longer periods of time by using lesser amounts of energy. It looks like some of them have developed a new type of sensor in a lab that can work for an entire year on a one burst of energy, assisted by a phenomenon in Physics called as quantum tunnelling.
Development of a new sensor using quantum physics
The quantum tunneling phenomenon makes use of about 50-million-electrons to fire up this new and cheap sensor and make it work for many many hours. The new sensor consists of only 4 capacitors and 2 transistors. According to quantum physics, electrons tend to possess a dual nature, a wave and a particle. This dual nature of electrons was used by scientists to precisely regulate the flow of electrons from one end of the circuit to another.
Electrical engineer Shantanu Chakrabartty, from Washington University in St. Louis says, “You can only get to the other side by physically climbing the hill. Quantum tunneling in physics is just like climbing a hill.” For current generation, devices must push the electrons vigorously – which uses something called as threshold energy, as a certain threshold needs to be overcome by the push provided to the electrons. While coming up with devices that use minimal power, overcoming that threshold is a bit of an issue.
The issue is taken care of by the quantum mechanics. It makes use of some methods to reshape the threshold hill or barrier and enable us to regulate the electron flow in a number of ways. In case of the new sensor, the threshold barrier is called as Fowler-Nordheim tunnelling barrier, and it has a thickness of less than 100 atoms. By reshaping the threshold barrier as such, the scientists slowed down the electron flow while ensuring that the system and the device were kept stable and powered up.
Overcoming the threshold barrier
Chakrabartty said, “Consider that there’s an apple on a tree. In order to make it fall, you need to shake the tree. It will fall down only when you shake the tree with sufficient strength. It’s the same with electrons, they need a certain minimum energy to go past the threshold barrier.” The new device has 2 dynamical systems, ,one of them has a transducer.
The group needed to work in reverse to shape their slope or barrier, estimating electron development first and afterward refining the Fowler-Nordheim arrangement appropriately. What the they wound up with was a device that utilizes the interaction between the two inner frameworks to detect and log information utilizing no extra power. Something like this could be utilized for observing glucose in the blood, for instance, or estimating temperature for immunization transportation without batteries.
In the case of the sensor, the transducer acted as a piezo-electric accelerometer. It was sensed and fuelled by ambient movement. In any case, the fundamental standards of the long-running, high-proficiency framework can be applied to harvest other types of energies, too. Chakrabartty stated, “At this moment, the stage is conventional. It just relies upon what you couple to the device. However long you have a transducer that can produce an electrical sign, it can self-power our sensor-information logger.” The research has been published in Nature Communications.