Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a method of integrating gallium nitride (GaN) sensors and devices directly into silicon-based computer chips.
"GaN [is capable] of handling more power than conventional transistors. And it can do so faster, because it can be made into single crystals that are integrated into a silicon chip - so electrons can move more quickly," explained Dr. Jay Narayan.
"[Such technology will] enable the development of high-power, high-voltage and high-current devices - [which] are critical for the development of energy distribution devices, such as smart grid technology and high-frequency military communications."
According to Narayan, the integration of GaN on a silicon platform without any buffer layers is also expected to facilitate the design of multifunctional smart sensors, high-electron mobility transistors, high-power devices and high-voltage switches for smart grids.
In addition, the integration of GaN into silicon chips will make a broader range of radio frequencies available, thus accelerating the development of advanced communication technologies.
"These devices stand [ready] to meet the challenges of high-power, high-frequency and high bandwidth needs for advanced consumer applications and military satellite communications," Narayan concluded.