The innovation engine for new materials

Beyond Batteries: Reimagining the Role of Ions in Electronics

Seminar Group: 


Professor Susan Fullerton


Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Pittsburgh


Friday, May 21, 2021 - 11:00am


Angela Pitenis and Michael Chabinyc

The interplay between ions and electrons governs processes as common as the biochemistry essential for life and the performance of devices as ubiquitous as batteries.  The energy that powers our smart phones and laptops is stored by ions. Yet when we peer past the battery and examine the device-scale electronics, mobile ions are nowhere to be found. This is a missed opportunity because the coupling between ions in electrolytes and electrons/holes in novel semiconductors is strong.  For example, in two-dimensional (2D) materials this coupling has uncovered exciting phenomena such as spin polarization, photogalvanic current, current-induced circularly polarized electrolumines­cence, and superconductivity.  Remarkably, these demonstrations have relied on electrolytes that were not designed for investigating semiconductor physics, but instead for energy storage (e.g., solid polymer electrolytes and ionic liquids). Our group is reimagining how ions can be used in electronics when the electrolyte is custom designed to provide a specific functionality or unlock a new mechanism to control transport.  For example, we have developed a “monolayer electrolyte” that is a single molecule thick and is designed for bistability.  We have custom-synthesized a single-ion conductor and used it as an electric double layer (EDL) gate on 2D FETs with the goal of controlling strain via field-effect. Together with our collaborators we have develop several new types of “locking” electrolytes that can lock and unlock EDLs via multiple external triggers.  Our development of these and other new ion-conductors is grounded in fundamental materials science and driven by applications in the electronics community including non-volatile memory, low-power logic, hardware security, and neuromorphic computing. In this talk I will review the basics of EDL gating and highlight our most recent developments on ion conductors with an eye towards application.



Please contact Sylvia at sylvia [at] mrl [dot] ucsb [dot] edu for Zoom link and passcode.