Flexible electronics are bendable or stretchable electronic circuits, meaning that at least some of their components (e.g. transistors, displays, batteries, sensors) have changed their form without losing their function. Flexibility enables more complex designs and new applications, such as wearables, e-tattoos, or foldable screens. Material science and 3D printing is an important part of research in this field.
Rectangular ‘metal and glass’ devices such as phones and laptops will become very rare as flexible electronics will have countless more contextually appropriate forms.
Silicon has been the material of choice in developing computer chips carbon nanotubes may replace it. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) are carbon-based, tube-shaped materials with nano-scale diameters. They are added to other structural materials in order to improve the overall material properties, a.o. thermal conductivity, electrical and mechanical properties. Developments focus on material science to exploit different advantages of CNT, to find unique properties when combined with other materials, and on micro-scale applications such as injectable chips.
In Computing Memory, the RAM in a device is used both for storage and processing of data, by using the physical properties of the RAM material under influence of electricity or temperature. By eliminating the data transfer between CPU and RAM, Computing Memory operates much faster and at lower energy, especially when processing big data.
Graphene transistors and chips will make computers smaller and faster, while working at lower power. They will extend the validity of Moore’s Law with regard to the increase of compute power, but they will also enable paper-thin gadgets and smart biomedical sensors.
Graphene has been called the nanomaterial of the new millennium. Electrically conductive, chemically stable and the world’s strongest material, it consists of carbon atoms that are densely packed and arranged in a two-dimensional hexagonal pattern – a sheet with the thickness of a single atom.
There are already technologies in place to mass-produce graphene cheaply from three simple components (hydrocarbon gas, oxygen and a spark plug). This makes it a suitable candidate for large-scale production.
Graphene transistors and chips will make computers smaller and faster. Among others, these will run bigger and better simulations for climate science or space exploration. Next-generation, graphene-enabled computing technologies will not stop at crunching large amounts of data, however. These versatile materials holds a lot of promise for tech such as paper-thin gadgets and smart biomedical sensors.
Where traditional computers use 0/1 bits, a quantum computer uses qubits that can simultaneously be in multiple states. Quantum computers should be able to quickly solve certain problems that no classical computer could solve in any feasible amount of time, such as cracking encryption. This is known as “quantum supremacy”. Research efforts are focused on the creation of quantum hardware and on making quantum computers more efficient, stable and cheaper.