University Latsis Award EPFL 2020 – Elison Matioli

© 2020 Elison Matioli

© 2020 Elison Matioli

Nanoscale devices for large-scale challenges: from efficient power electronics to bridging the terahertz gap

For his research and accomplishments in the area of new semiconductor circuits and devices enabling energy-efficient high power conversion.

Electricity is the fastest growing form of end-use energy, however a significant portion is wasted in power conversion. Prof. Matioli’s group have demonstrated the novel concept of multiple highly-conductive channels, resulting in over 4x-smaller sheet resistances. Achieving high-voltage operation in such ultra-conductive structures was a major issue, addressed by their innovative concept of lateral slanted field-plates, consisting of nanostructuring regions of the device to effectively manage high electric-fields.

Second, the constant increase of power density poses another major challenge for the future of electronics: thermal management. Prof. Matioli’s team demonstrated the co-design of microfluidics and electronics into the same semiconductor, to produce a monolithically-integrated manifold microchannel cooling with unprecedented performance, enabling the demonstration of an ultra-compact power converter on a single chip with integrated cooling.

Finally, the yet underexplored Terahertz spectrum could unleash promising applications, from biological imaging to very-high-data-rate communications. Prof. Matioli’s group, from the School of Engineering, conceived an innovative on-chip, all-electronic device based on nanoscale plasma, that enabled ultrafast switching speed, more than 10x-faster and with over 200x-greater power than the state-of-the-art compact solid-state electronics, which is a promising technology to address the so-called Terahertz gap.

Such nanoscale design of devices and materials could have a significant impact on important societal challenges.