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Correlated electronic materials

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Published on Feb 19, 2010

[Opening up a new world of electronics by designing strongly correlated electronic materials]

The Matoba Laboratory is working to design new, strongly correlated electronic materials that can solve environmental and energy problems associated with semiconductors. As semiconductor materials are essential for computers and energy applications, they play a major role in daily life. So, the goal of research by the Matoba Laboratory is to create more functional electronic materials.


Q. "Were developing substances that enable electronic properties to be manifested more effectively than before, by enabling very poorly conducting metals to conduct electricity. "


To do this research, its necessary to start by studying inter-electronic structure. However, theres a principle called Moores Law, which implies that todays electronics will get down to the atomic level by 2020. So its predicted that development beyond that level will be difficult. To solve this problem, itll be necessary to develop materials that enable electronic properties to be manifested more effectively.


Q. "For example, were seeking to design materials that dont conduct heat much at all, but conduct electricity, or as an ultimate goal, materials that have almost no electrical resistance. Were doing experiments that we hope will enable us to provide materials useful to society in the future."


The negative charges of electrons cause an interaction called Coulomb repulsion. In assemblages of electrons where Coulomb repulsion is large, the electrons can hardly move at all. Such assemblages are called strongly correlated electron systems, and they can exhibit forces that transcend the predictions of conventional theory. The Matoba Lab is developing new substances that exhibit entirely new functions, by making holes in these strongly correlated electron systems so the electrons can move more easily.


Q. "For example, in exhaust heat from a car, an awful lot of heat is thrown away. If it becomes possible to convert that heat to electrical energy and bring it back, wed be able to make better eco-cars. Also, superconductivity is only possible at very low temperatures, but if it can be achieved at room temperature, power lines could be replaced with superconducting lines, to transmit electricity without any heat loss. The good thing about superconductivity is that theres no resistance, so theres no heating. Being able to send a current a long way 100% efficiently would save a huge amount of energy. Wed like to create a society where its actually possible to do that."


The electronic level had been said to be the limit for development. But the Matoba Lab is working to develop strongly correlated electronic materials by thinking outside the box. The intention is that this research will help create a more energy-efficient society.


Q. "Taking a broad view, without preconceived ideas that this is no good, seems contrarian; it goes against conventional wisdom. But I think new things will arise from seeing through the unknown and demonstrating whether such functions can be achieved."

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