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NOVEMBER 2022 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 21 It's not a stretch to say that every electrical and electronic technology that we use today was enabled by Maxwell's work 160 years ago. Here's what some of the top minds of his day, and today, have to say about Maxwell's contri- butions: "Maxwell's equations have had a greater impact on human history than any 10 presidents." —Carl Sagan "From a long view of the history of mankind— seen from, say, 10,000 years from now—there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics." —Richard P. Feynman "The only things we really know are Maxwell's equations, the three laws of Newton, the two pos- tulates of relativity, and the periodic table. That's all we know that's true. All the rest are man's laws." —Dean Kamen "Since Maxwell's time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most pro- found and the most fruitful that physics has experi- enced since the time of Newton." —Albert Einstein "Maxwell's equations didn't just change the world. They opened up a new one." —Ian Stewart. DESIGN007 Figure 2: Maxwell's four coupled differential equations. (Source: Wikipedia) Advanced materials known as ferroelectrics pres- ent a promising solution to help lower the power consumed by the ultrasmall electronic devices found in cell phones and computers. Ferroelectrics are a class of materials in which some of the atoms are arranged off-center, leading to a spontaneous internal electric charge or polarization. This internal polarization can reverse its direction when scien- tists expose the material to an external voltage. Unfortunately, conventional ferroelectric materi- als lose their internal polarization below around a few nanometers in thickness. This means they are not compatible with current-day silicon technology. This has prevented the integration of ferroelectrics into microelectronics. But now a team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley performing experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have found a solution that simultane- ously solves both problems by creating the thin- nest ferroelectric ever reported and the thinnest demonstration of a working memory on silicon. In a study published in the journal Science, the research team discovered stable ferroelectric- ity in an ultrathin layer of zirconium dioxide just half a nanometer thick. The team grew this mate- rial directly on silicon. They found ferroelectric- ity emerges in zirconium dioxide when it is grown extremely thin, approximately 1-2 nanometers in thickness. The researchers were also able to switch the polarization in this ultrathin material back and forth with a small voltage, enabling the thinnest dem- onstration of a working memory ever reported on silicon. Beyond the immediate technological impact, this work also has significant implications for designing new two-dimensional materials. (Source: Argonne National Laboratory) Thinnest Ferroelectric Material Ever Paves Way For Efficient Devices

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