New low energy technologies smart answer to future computing crisis

14 Jun 2018
Professor Matt Davis at the recent FLEET launch in Melbourne

The information technology revolution has promised self-driving vehicles, on-demand translation, augmented reality, and even more addictive Netflix specials – if the power doesn’t run out first.

Up to eight per cent of global electricity use is being consumed by information and communications technologies, and that’s doubling every decade. University of Queensland’s Head of Physics, Professor Matt Davis, is hoping to solve the future exponential information technology energy crisis, before it’s too late.

“Historically, computing power has doubled every year.  This is known as Moore’s law and that is going to come to an end very soon.  However, the real future restriction that is looming is the amount of energy our devices’ need to use,” Professor Davis said.

“We’re about to enter an era where energy will become the limiting factor for computational growth.”

To surpass this potential plateau of innovation, The University of Queensland is playing a key role in the new ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET), being launched today in Melbourne.

“FLEET will use topological materials and atomically-thin, two-dimensional (2D) materials to create a new generation of ultra-low energy electronics that dissipate much less energy as heat.”

“Continuing the IT revolution means finding a fundamentally new electronics technology, and FLEET will be central in using cutting-edge physics to develop these technologies,” Professor Davis said.

Over a hundred researchers at seven Australian universities and 13 Australian and international science organisations will collaborate to make information communications technologies vastly more efficient, and Professor Davis is excited by the prospect of this low-energy computational future.

“Each smartphone is now responsible for burning more electricity than a household fridge, and information communication technologies are estimated to contribute as much to climate-change as air travel. It’s time to change that, so we can continue to make smarter, increasingly useful technologies,” he said.