Dielectrics conducted electricity and broke conventional thinking; Research

Fused silica after giving very short potent ultraviolet pulses showed ultra-fast processingScientists have successfully used laser pulses through dielectrics to achieve 10,000 times faster working of transistors than the conventional transistors.

Researches presenting this have been done by Georgia State University professor and international researchers, and published online in the journal Nature.

This research is really interesting because it showed that the substance which was not used for a certain purpose have suddenly broken all the records of that purpose.

Technological industries generally use two types of solids for electricity; metals and semiconductors. However, there is a third type of solid i.e. insulators also known as dielectrics, that don’t conduct electricity and if someone tries to pass high fields of energy through them, they could be damaged.

In the recent study, scientists gave brief potent laser pulses to the dielectrics and found that they started conducting electricity without being damaged. They found that the dielectric was able to process signals very fast that were on the order of 1 femtosecond i.e. the same time for the light wave vibration. The dielectric devices are able to work at 1 petahertz as compared to the processor of conventional computers that operate slightly faster than 3 gigahertz.

“Now we can fundamentally have a device that works 10 thousand times faster than a transistor that can run at 100 gigahertz,” Professor of Physics Mark Stockman and one of the co-authors of the papers said in a statement. “This is a field effect, the same type that controls a transistor. The material becomes conductive as a very high electrical field of light is applied to it, but dielectrics are 10,000 times faster than semiconductors.”

In the second paper, scientists have used a dielectric – fused silica – and investigated the optical processes with very short potent ultraviolet pulses. They found the fastest processing “that can fundamentally exist in condensed matter physics, unfolding at about at 100 attoseconds – millions of times faster than the blink of an eye.”


Schiffrin, A., Paasch-Colberg, T., Karpowicz, N., Apalkov, V., Gerster, D., Mühlbrandt, S., Korbman, M., Reichert, J., Schultze, M., Holzner, S., Barth, J., Kienberger, R., Ernstorfer, R., Yakovlev, V., Stockman, M., & Krausz, F. (2012). Optical-field-induced current in dielectrics Nature DOI: said in a statement

Schultze, M., Bothschafter, E., Sommer, A., Holzner, S., Schweinberger, W., Fiess, M., Hofstetter, M., Kienberger, R., Apalkov, V., Yakovlev, V., Stockman, M., & Krausz, F. (2012). Controlling dielectrics with the electric field of light Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11567


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