Nobel Laureate to Discuss Future of Nanoelectronics

The Beckman auditorium will be the setting for a talk by Nobel Laureate Klaus von Klitzing on a topic that involves numerous researchers at the Institute and the University of Illinois: nanoelectronics.

Klaus von Klitzing
Klaus von Klitzing

Beckman Institute faculty member Jean-Pierre Leburton believes Nobel Laureate Klaus von Klitzing’s upcoming lecture will provide unique insight into the future of electronic devices and the underlying physics that allows them to shrink ever smaller.

Von Klitzing will speak at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26th, in the Beckman auditorium. The lecture and discussion is sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study, the Beckman Institute, and the University of Illinois departments of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Physics. The title of his talk is “The Quantum Leap from Micro- to Nanoelectronics.”

The abstract for the lecture says that the main part of von Klitzing’s talk will focus on technologies for “the preparation of semiconductor nanostructures and the new properties of these devices if quantum phenomena become important.”

He will provide a vision of the possibilities offered by new materials for creating new functionality for nanoelectronics, and beyond nanoelectronics.
– Jean-Pierre Leburton on Nobel Laureate Klaus von Klitzing

Leburton, a Professor in the departments of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering, said that von Klitzing “will provide a vision of the possibilities offered by new materials for creating new functionality for nanoelectronics, and beyond nanoelectronics.”

Leburton, who has known von Klitzing for more than 25 years, led the drive to bring the Nobel Laureate to campus. Von Klitzing won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1985 for the discovery of the quantized Hall effect. He is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Physics in Stuttgart, Germany, and a world leader in the study of the electronic properties of molecular scale system structures.

The drive to make silicon-based electronic devices tinier and tinier – and the problems associated with that push – has been a staple of semiconductor physics research for decades.

  “We have been relying on silicon technology for more than 40 years, but the technology is maturing” Leburton said. “Its limits have been predicted for a long time, but today they are within reach.

“It has been astounding that silicon technology, CMOS technology, has been able to live for so long. When I started my career they would tell you that limits to miniaturization would be reached in 10 years, but they were always overcome, and devices have been able to shrink even further every year. Now the physical limits imposed by the granularity of matter are very real and of concern.”

The Nobel award for von Klitzing stated that the quantized Hall effect “has fundamental implications for physics. His discovery has opened up a new research field of great importance and relevance. … Because of the extremely high precision in the quantized Hall effect, it may be used as a standard of electrical resistance.”

Leburton said that von Klitzing’s Nobel Prize-winning revelation “really opened a totally new field of physics.

“The quantum Hall effect showed that you could do really nice physics within semiconductor technology and that a device as imperfect and rough at the nanoscale as a transistor can exhibit a behavior that clearly reveals fundamental constants of atomic physics.” The abstract for the talk states that some quantum phenomena typical of nanodevices “do not mark the end in the miniaturization of devices but open the possibility to create new devices with new functions where, for example, the energy quantization of electrons in confined structures, tunnel phenomena through barriers, and single electron charging of small islands play an important role.”

The talk will look toward development of future devices, as the abstract states: “Up to now it is not clear whether the top-down process in miniaturization will be successful in nanoelectronics or whether molecular systems and self-organized structures will be combined with standard CMOS technology.”

Von Klitzing is also slated to discuss carbon-based materials and talk about interesting applications of his 1985 Nobel Prize. A discussion and reception will follow.