How Materials Science Heralds A New Class Of Technologies 

Future generations may well refer to our current times as ‘the silicon age’. Silicon forms the core of the electronics that enable much of our way of life, not just computers and mobile phones but also in areas such as communication and transportation, among many others. We also know that silicon has limitations that make the steady march towards faster, lighter, cheaper technology with more and more capability unsustainable within the existing framework. In fact, worldwide use of electronics is increasing so rapidly that by most estimates half of global energy consumption will be used by information technologies within a couple of decades. Nicola Spaldin is a professor and the head of the Materials Theory group at ETH Zurich. She is internationally acclaimed for conceiving of and developing a new class of ‘two in one’ materials – multiferroics – which have the unprecedented quality of being both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic, allowing for entirely new electronic device architectures. Nicola and her interdisciplinary group are now further developing these materials using computer models and specialised facilities for the synthesis of multiferroics. At Falling Walls, Nicola will explain the potential of a novel generation of lighter, smaller, and more energy-efficient technologies that promise to take us beyond the silicon age.

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