In today’s world, we are bombarded with an overwhelming amount of data. This has led to the need for data centers, which consume large amounts of electricity and contribute to environmental pollution. To tackle this issue, researchers are exploring new computing systems that are more energy-efficient and faster. However, these systems still struggle to meet the demand for data processing. Dr. Do Kyung Hwang of the Center for Opto-Electronic Materials & Devices of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Professor Jong-Soo Lee of the Department of Energy Science & Engineering at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) have developed a groundbreaking solution – a new semiconductor artificial junction material that can revolutionize data processing.
Traditionally, computing systems operate using electrical signals. However, the research team’s innovation lies in using light to transmit data instead. By incorporating light-based data transfer between the computing and storage components of a multi-level computer, the processing speed can be dramatically increased. This next-generation memory powered by light holds immense potential for transforming the field of data processing.
The researchers successfully developed a new 2D-0D semiconductor artificial junction material by combining quantum dots in a core-shell structure with zinc sulfide (ZnS) on the surface of cadmium selenide (CdSe) and a molybdenum sulfide (MoS2) semiconductor. This innovative material allows for the storage and manipulation of electronic states within ultra-small quantum dots.
When light is applied to the cadmium selenide core, a specific number of electrons flow out of the molybdenum sulfide semiconductor, resulting in the trapping of holes in the core and rendering it conductive. The electron state within cadmium selenide is also quantized. By applying intermittent light pulses, electrons are sequentially trapped in the electron band, causing a change in the resistance of the molybdenum sulfide through the field effect. This resistance change cascades depending on the number of light pulses, allowing for the maintenance and division of more than just binary states. Unlike conventional memory, which only has 0 and 1 states, this new material can maintain and manipulate more than 10 states. The zinc sulfide shell in the structure prevents charge leakage between neighboring quantum dots, enabling each quantum dot to function as an independent memory unit.
The team’s quantum dot structure not only amplifies signals from light sensors but also closely mimics the floating gate memory structure. This characteristic highlights its potential for being used as the next-generation optical memory. The researchers conducted tests to validate the effectiveness of the polynomial memory phenomenon using neural network modeling with the CIFAR-10 dataset, achieving an impressive recognition rate of 91%.
The Road Ahead
Dr. Do Kyung Hwang and Professor Jong-Soo Lee’s breakthrough in developing the 2D-0D semiconductor artificial junction material represents a significant advancement in the field of computing. This innovative solution holds the key to addressing the challenges posed by data deluge and environmental pollution caused by energy-intensive data centers. By harnessing the power of light, the future of computing is set to become more energy-efficient, faster, and capable of handling the ever-increasing demand for data processing. With ongoing research and development, this technology has the potential to revolutionize multiple industries and shape a more sustainable future.