EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T001194/1
Title: Novel Electron Fluids in Quantum Materials
Principal Investigator: Shytov, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology University of Manchester, The Weizmann Institute of Science
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2020 Ends: 31 March 2023 Value (£): 348,129
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Jun 2019 EPSRC Physical Sciences - June 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The discovery of graphene and other atomically thin quantum materials has defined a new paradigm in nanoscience. Electrons in these materials behave as light shining through window glass, propagating ballistically, unimpeded by disorder and defects. This leads to record-high electric conduction and other unique properties, which enable new directions for device engineering and have the potential to radically transform the performance of electronic devices. Remarkably, the quantum phenomena underlying these excellent electronic properties persist even at room temperature, changing the rules for signal processing and opening new avenues for quantum electronics and calling for innovative approaches to nanoelectronics that exploit new physical ideas rather than the conventional schemes.

Electron fluid (e-fluid) is a new state of matter that may help to address this challenge. In e-fluids, the flow of electric charge mimics that of viscous fluids, such as water, honey, or air, in a radical departure from textbook Ohm's law seen in conventional metals and semiconductors. In 20th century, viscous fluids were employed to engineer fluidic circuits and even simple but fully functional hydraulic computers operating at low frequencies. (For example, such devices found their use in automatic transmissions systems in vehicles.) E-fluids in quantum materials, in particular graphene, a one-atom-thin layer of carbon, move much faster and on much shorter scales. Extending fluidic designs to e-fluids will lead to logic gates and integrated circuits that operate a billion times faster, and are 10000 times smaller. Can the performance of fluidic circuits surpass that of conventional semiconductor transistors?

We believe that the answer to this question is in the affirmative: fluidic circuit components employing e-fluids in novel materials may operate faster, on a smaller scale, and provide novel functionalities. E-fluids will enable ultrafast low-power transistors, low-resistivity interconnects, and direct-current transformers. The fluidic architectures will provide support to modern technologies such as machine learning through achieving energy-efficient operation of analogue nanoscale devices at ultrahigh frequencies. To put these ideas on a firm ground and to unleash the potential of e-fluidics, a deeper understanding of the physics of e-fluids must be developed.

This project is a condensed-matter theorist's answer to the demands of nanoscale electronics. In the PI's preliminary work, an interesting and potentially useful regime, the onset of fluidity was identified. We shall focus our efforts on the onset of fluidity, describing it via mathematical models, and employing these to suggest design ideas for applications in nanoscale electronics.

The onset of fluidity occurs when the frequency of collisions between charge carriers reaches a certain threshold such that a current flow can drag ambient particles. In this regime, nonlocal effects and nonlinear couplings between currents are expected to be maximal. The latter is very beneficial for potential applications: electric current can be employed to manipulate the flow of another current. More detailed recent analysis demonstrate that the onset is not just a threshold for fluid-mechanical behaviour but an entirely new regime, in which injected currents propagate through the fluid via directed jets comprised of electrons and holes.

We will study theoretically the key phenomena occurring at the fluidity onset in graphene: charge flows, formation of jets, nonlinear coupling between the currents, energy transport, sensitivity to external magnetic field, response to fast electric fields. The research will be linked to experimental efforts done by project partners. The insights into the physics of fluidity will eventually help, via interaction with other teams, to propose novel designs of elements of nanoelectronic circuits based on the principles of e-fluidics.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk