A research team working at the Lehigh University recently discovered a unique property of a semiconductor material – the Gallium Nitride (GaN). To everybody’s surprise they found that the material GaN has a diamond like resistance which means it is pretty tough and take on utmost level of pressure and temperature brunts. The wearing rate of this substance was measured by the researchers with custom microtribometer for the dry sliding wear experiments.
The team discovered that the wearing rate of GaN ranged between 10-9 to 10-7 mm3/Nm with respect to specific conditions like environment and crystallographic direction. This wear rate is attained by the substance when it reaches pretty close to diamond that has an almost similar wear resistance rate. The engineers say that they were in shock when they noticed this fact. As they quote, “When performing wear measurements of unknown materials, we typically slide for 1,000 cycles, then measure the wear scars; [these] experiments had to be increased to 30,000 reciprocating cycles to be measurable with our optical profilometer.”
The discovery is a critical one for the electronics industry. GaN have several other properties that make it a highly suitable for electronic applications including the most used Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), sensors, high temperature transistors, and so forth. Since the wear resistance properties are in light now, it will become a superstar with smart phones as well other electronic devices. Nelson Tansu, the researcher from this team, adds, “Using GaN, you can build an entire device in a platform without multiple layers of technologies. You can integrate electronics, light sensors and light emitters and still have a mechanically robust device. This will open up a new paradigm for designing devices. And because GaN can be made very thin and still strong, it will accelerate the move to flexible electronics.”
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