Scientists at the University of Queensland have solved a dilemma that has plagued chemists and physicists for years, which may have led to a new era of powerful, efficient, and environmentally friendly technologies.
Using quantum mechanics, Professor Ben Powell from UQ School of Mathematics and Physics has discovered a “recipe” that allows cellular mutations to operate at room temperature.
“Flexibility of objects that can change between two or more regions, such as opening and closing or 0 and 1, and is the basis of all digital technologies,” said Professor Powell. “This discovery paves the way for less powerful and energy-efficient technologies. You can expect batteries to last longer and computers to run faster.”
To date, molecular mutations can occur only when the molecules are very cold — at temperatures below 250 degrees centigrade. “In engineering, this is a big problem,” said Professor Powell.
“Following this detailed ‘recipe’, chemists should be able to activate the cellular switch at room temperature.”
“This will open the door to major technological advances, such as developing MRI scans that can lead to the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer.”
“These devices can be used for sensors, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fuel cells, and actuators, which can change the movement of electricity, which can be useful for robots.”
“All of these applications require items that can be changed by temperature or above temperature, which is why our availability is very important.”
“Using these materials will also reduce the burden on the environment as it will reduce energy consumption, which will help combat climate change.
UQ researchers will be working with pharmacists at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales to develop new experimental “recipes.”