More efficient computing—potentially room temperature quantum computing—and recyclable rigid plastics are two projects to be undertaken by a new materials research science and engineering center at the University of Michigan.

Funded with $18 million from the National Science Foundation, the center seeks to build a campuswide ecosystem of researchers that converge on material solutions to problems facing society. Focusing on the integration of research and education, the center also aims to broaden participation in materials research through year-round opportunities for students and teachers. The center includes researchers from across the U-M campus and from the University of Colorado.

“By the year 2030, IT is expected to utilize 30% of all electrical energy. This is clearly not sustainable,” said Rachel Goldman, U-M professor of materials science and engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Professor of Physics, and Associate Director of Applied Physics, who leads the new Center for Materials Innovation at Michigan.

“Likewise, we’ve all seen photos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—plastics in the ocean. This is, in part, because only some thermoplastics are recyclable. Our center will help address both of these grand challenges.”

The team’s approach to more sustainable computing relates to both conventional and quantum computing. The new materials they propose could reduce the energy costs of both types. In addition, the proliferation of quantum computing would enable some types of problems to be solved in a fraction of the time.

For these purposes, the team will investigate a new class of layered materials in which the atoms in some of the layers are arranged in different crystal structures. Because these special layers are surrounded by layers with the same chemical composition, they are insulated from disturbances. The absence of disorder from their surroundings means these layers have new and enhanced properties that will make both classical and quantum computing more energy efficient.

Read the rest of the story on the Univesity of Michigan News website.

More Information:
PI for this project:
Professor Rachel Goldman

Physics Co-PI's:
Professor Emanuel Gull
Professor Na Hyun Jo
Professor Xiaoming Mao
Professor Kai Sun
Professor Liuyan Zhao