Purdue University researchers have used a semiconductor called beta gallium oxide to make a high performance transistor, which could be promising for ultra-efficient switches.

The semiconductor could be used in next generation power electronics and to help reduce global energy use by replacing less efficient and bulky switches. Applications include the power grid, military ships and aircraft.

The transistor, called a gallium oxide on insulator field effect transistor, or GOOI, is claimed to be promising because it possesses an ultra-wide bandgap, a trait needed for switches in high voltage applications.

“Compared to other semiconductors thought to be promising for the transistors, devices made from beta gallium oxide have a higher breakdown voltage,” said Professor Peide Ye.

Beta gallium oxide is said to be the most stable version of gallium oxide.

The Purdue team claim to have achieved electrical currents 10 to 100 times greater than other research groups working with the semiconductor.

One drawback to the material is that it possesses poor thermal properties. To help solve the problem, future research may include work to attach the material to a substrate of diamond or aluminium nitride.