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New finding can help electronic devices last longer

ISLAMABAD -The research could lead to electronics being designed with better endurance.Ferroelectric materials are used in many devices, including memories, capacitors, actuators, and sensors. These devices are commonly used in both consumer and industrial instruments, such as computers, medical ultrasound equipment, and underwater sonars. Over time, ferroelectric materials are subjected to repeated mechanical and electrical loading, leading to a progressive decrease in their functionality, ultimately resulting in failure. This process is referred to as ‘ferroelectric fatigue’. 

It is a main cause of the failure of a range of electronic devices, with discarded electronics a leading contributor to e-waste. Globally, tens of millions of tonnes of failed electronic devices go into landfills every year. Using advanced in-situ electron microscopy, the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering researchers were able to observe ferroelectric fatigue as it occurred. This technique uses an advanced microscope to ‘see’, in real-time, down to the nanoscale and atomic levels.The researchers hope this new observation, described in a paper published in Nature Communications, will help better inform the future design of ferroelectric nanodevices.

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