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Rensselaer Researchers Predict the Electrical Response of Metals to Extreme Pressures


Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences makes it possible to predict how subjecting metals to severe pressure can lower their electrical resistance, a finding that could have applications in computer chips and other materials that could benefit from specific electrical resistance.

The semiconductor industry has long manipulated materials like silicon through the use of pressure, a strategy known as “strain engineering,” to improve the performance of transistors. But as the speed of transistors has increased, the limited speed of interconnects – the metal wiring between transistors – has become a barrier to increased computer chip speed. The published research paper, Pressure Enabled Phonon Engineering in Metals, opens the door to a new variant of strain engineering that can be applied to the metal interconnects, and other materials used to conduct or insulate electricity.

“We looked at a fundamental physical property, the resistivity of a metal, and show that if you pressurize these metals, resistivity decreases. And not only that, we show that the decrease is specific to different materials – aluminum will show one decrease, but copper shows another decrease,” said Nicholas Lanzillo, a doctoral candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and lead author on the study. “This paper explains why different materials see different decreases in these fundamental properties under pressure…” See full article at:

To see this research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, see Pressure-enabled phonon engineering in metals.