It’s probably happened to you: you use your laptop or smartphone a little too much one day, and suddenly you realize you need to recharge it—as soon as possible.
Mason electrical engineer Qiliang Li has been working to solve this problem. In fact, he foresees a future where a person might only need to recharge his or her electronic devices once a week. He believes the answer lies in nanotechnology.
“It is called local memory,” says Li of the central processing unit (CPU) that keeps all the applications open, running, and on track, remembering where the user was in an e-mail or online. SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery. It is different from the kind of computer memory that one can buy and add to the computer, and it is more expensive.
“The CPU is the heart of the computer. All computers depend on the CPU,” he says. “In a CPU, half the space is occupied by this local memory, which is the most important kind of memory.”
And Li believes that memory needs to be fast enough and energy efficient. “You don’t want the computer to consume a lot of energy,” says Li, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Volgenau School of Engineering.
Li and his team are working with nanowire-based logic and memory, a technology that uses tiny silicon wires, less than 20 nanometers in diameter. SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery. These nanowires form the basis of memory that is nonvolatile, meaning that it can hold its contents even when the power is switched off.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a collaborator in Li’s research, SONY VGP-BPL21 Battery, such nanowire devices are being studied as the possible basis for next-generation computer memory because they hold the promise to store information faster and at lower voltage.
Before Li came to Mason in 2007, he was a research scientist in the Semiconductor Electronics Division of NIST, where he was involved in the fabrication, characterization, and simulation of complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor and nanoelectronics materials and devices. His relationship with the U.S. Department of Commerce continues to this day. In fact, four of the graduate students supervised by Li work at the NIST lab through this ongoing collaboration.
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