ICT - Overview - Products - Text

Nanotechnology is used in ICT for data storage, to make and manufacture ICT, to make up components of ICT devices and displays, to enhance and improve ICT and for ICT innovation/novel uses.

Data Storage:

  • MRAM (magneto-resistive random access memory) is made up of layers of nanosized magnetic tunnel junctions separated by insulating layers to store data.
  • NRAM (nanotube RAM) uses carbon nanotubes for memory storage.  
  • STT-MRAM (spin-transfer-torque magnetic RAM) stores information in the spin of nanomagnets.
  • Single-electron tunneling (SET) stores memory in the form of single-electron transistors and has high density and low power applications.

Make and Manufacture:

  • Nanoimprint lithography makes nanosized patterns and is used to make integrated circuits and transistors.
  • Nanoparticle copper suspensions have been developed as a safer and cheaper alternative to lead-based solder used to fuse electronics in manufacturing.

Components of devices and displays:

  • Quantum dots are nanoparticles that can emit different colours of light depending on their size and shape, have both optical and electrical properties and can be put on different surfaces. They are used in information storage, imaging and sensing, flexible displays, and, most commonly, in television screens.
  • Carbon nanotubes, photonic crystals and liquid crystals are found in electronic paper for e-readers, electronic labels and signage.
  • Flexible electronics are used in cameras, displays, input devices, satellites and printers. Semiconductor nanomembranes are in displays. Graphene and cellulosic nanomaterials can be used in wearable sensors.
  • Nano-inks are in printable electronics and used for radio frequency identification, displays and sensors.
  • Nanofilled coatings, graphene nanotubes and other nanomaterials are used to prevent electrostatic discharge in electronics and semiconductors.
  • Electro-conductive metal nanomaterials, like silver, gold and copper, and carbon-based conductive nanomaterials, like carbon nanotubes and graphene, are transparent, flexible and corrosion resistant. They are used as films and coatings on dielectric substrates.

Enhance and improve:

  • High permittivity (high-k) nanomaterials are replacing silicon dioxide to prevent the insulating layer from leaking in transistors.
  • Carbon nanotubes have good electrical and thermal conductivity, are resistant to high temperatures, are strong and can be chemically modified. They are being developed for use in transistors, memory storage and to help cool microprocessors (CPU).
  • Graphene nano-electrochemical resonators and graphene radio frequency transistors are being explored for uses in wireless technologies to help overcome the overcrowding of the radio frequency spectrum.
  • Silver nanowires are transparent, conductive and flexible. They are a possible replacement for non-flexible indium-tin oxide and have been used in flexible touch screen displays.

Innovation/novel uses: Many of these technologies are still in the research and development stage, but have the potential to lead to major advances in ICT. 

  • Quantum computers – These computers are based on quantum mechanics. They use quantum bits (qubit) to run multidimensional quantum algorithms. They have higher processing speeds and can solve more complex problems than regular computers and even supercomputers. Nanotechnology is used in quantum computers for ion traps, cavity QEDs, superconducting circuits and optical systems to help the passage of quantum information throughout a computing system.
  • Quantum Cryptography – As ICT progresses, security is a growing concern. An example is quantum key distribution (QKD) encryption, where an encryption key is generated and sent to a receiver via a quantum channel. It uses nanostructured materials like quantum dots, carbon nanotubes and diamond nanowires.
  • Spin Transport Electronics (Spintronics) - An emerging technology based on the spin of electrons and their associated magnetic moment, rather than the charge of electrons. Spintronics are non-volatile, meaning they can retain information when the power is removed and thus can reduce the power consumption and increase the memory and processing capabilities of devices.  Applications include quantum computers, hard disc drives, sensors and semiconductors.
  • Graphene - It is being explored as a potential alternative to silicon-based electronics. It is a 2D structure that is only a single carbon atom thick, smaller than a nanotube, and can transfer electrons faster than silicon. It strong, flexible, transparent and has good electrical and thermal conductive properties. It has the potential to be used in sensors, transistors and displays.

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