EECS researchers discover ferroelectricity at the atomic scale

A team of researchers led by EE Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin and his graduate student, Suraj Cheema, have managed to grow an ultra-thin material on silicon that can power tiny electronic devices at the atomic scale.  Prior to this fundamental breakthrough, the thinnest conventional material that could demonstrate stable ferroelectricity was 3 nanometers thick.  The new ultrathin material, made of doped hafnium oxide just 1 nanometer thick (equivalent to the size of two atomic building blocks), can demonstrate even stronger ferroelectricity than material several times thicker.  This means it can efficiently power increasingly smaller devices, including memory and logic chips, batteries and sensors, with lower amounts of energy.  The findings were published in the April 22 issue of Nature.