17 Emerging Technologies in Electronics That Will Change Our Future

The world of electronics is about to change a lot. Technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing are making things more exciting and different. It’s like a fast and thrilling evolution in the world of electronics. 

Over the last hundred years, the electronics industry has been a hub of constant innovation, consistently pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve. From the early days of transistors to the widespread use of smartphones, this industry has greatly transformed society.

As we study the intricacies of the electronics industry, it becomes evident that each breakthrough is like a stepping stone, setting the stage for the next wave of revolutionary advancements. The constant pursuit of speed, functionality, and efficiency has created an environment where change isn’t just a regular thing — it’s the very heart of progress.

Did you know? 

The first type of transistor was invented in 1947. Since then, we have come a long way. The smartphone you are using today alone contains more than ten billion transistors. To put this into perspective, the computing power of your smartphone far exceeds that of the entire Apollo 11 mission that landed humans on the moon. 

This is just the beginning. Many revolutionary devices are yet to be invented. Let’s find out what the future could bring us. 

In this article, we will feature a world where devices seamlessly communicate in the language of data, where machines surpass human intelligence, and where the very fabric of electronic components can bend and flex like never before. We’ll explore the top emerging technologies in Electronics that are likely to shape our future. 

17. Digital Scent Technology

Aroma Shooter presented at CEATEC 2016

As the name suggests, Digital scent technology aims to simulate and reproduce smells digitally. The idea is to integrate the sense of smell into the digital experiences, just like the way audio and visual stimuli are integrated into various devices. 

It sounds surprising, but the first odor-releasing system, named Smell-O-Vision, was invented in the late 1950s. It could emit scents during movie projections to enhance the viewer’s experience.

Since then, many research facilities have developed similar devices. One example is iSmell, created in 1999, featuring a 128-odor cartridge for producing various mixed scents. However, due to certain limitations, the product was never commercially launched.

In 2016, at CEATEC, a company introduced a wearable scent device that can be controlled via smartphones and PCs. It still had many hurdles to overcome, such as the timing and distribution of scents and the health risks of synthetic odors.

In 2021, researchers at Northwestern University developed a system to control odors based on the user’s movements in virtual reality.

16. Thermal Copper Pillar Bump

Electrical and thermal bumps integrated on a single substrate 

The thermal copper pillar bump is a micro-size thermoelectric device used for packaging electronics and optoelectronics, such as laser diodes, semiconductor optical amplifiers, CPUs, and GPUs.

Nextreme Thermal Solutions developed this technology in order to integrate active thermal management functionality at the chip level. This method is currently utilized by major tech companies, such as Intel and Amkor, to connect microprocessors and other advanced chips to different surfaces.

How it works? 

The “bump” refers to a small, raised structure that connects the semiconductor die to the packaging. The primary purpose of these bumps is to spread and dissipate heat, preventing the semiconductor from overheating.

When current passes through a circuit board, the thermal bump pulls the heat and transfers it to the other bump. This process is known as the Peltier effect, and this is how a thermal bump helps reduce heat from electronic circuits.

These bumps function as solid-state heat pumps, providing thermal management on the chip’s surface. Present-day thermal bumps are approximately 20 μm high and 238 μm wide (diameter). The next-generation technology aims to reduce the height of thermal bumps to 10 μm.

15. Molybdenum Disulfide

Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2)

Molybdenum Disulfide is an inorganic compound that is widely used in electronics as a dry lubricant because of its low friction and robustness. Like silicon, it’s a diamagnetic, indirect bandgap semiconductor with a bandgap of 1.23 eV.

Molybdenum disulfide is a common dry lubricant with particle sizes in the range of 1-100 micrometers. It is often used in the production of efficient transistors, photodetectors, two-stroke engines, and universal joints.

In 2016, a two-dimensional Molybdenum disulfide was used to build a 1-bit microprocessor containing 115 transistors. It has also been used to create 3-terminal memtransistors. 

In 2023, we witnessed notable progress in molybdenum disulfide-based sensors, especially for applications in gas sensing, humidity sensing, and biosensing. Its ability to detect various analytes at room temperature and high surface-to-volume ratio gives it a unique advantage in the sensing field. 

Moreover, Molybdenum disulfide has been studied for its potential use in energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors and batteries. Its electrochemical properties, conductivity, and structural characteristics make it a potential candidate for improving the performance and efficiency of supercapacitors and batteries.  

14. E-Textiles

Electronic textiles (or smart clothing) are fabrics embedded with digital components to provide added value to the wearer. It seamlessly integrates conductive threads, sensors, and other electronic elements into the fabric, creating functional and wearable technology.

This convergence of textiles and electronics opens up a myriad of possibilities for applications in various industries. For example, smart clothing with integrated sensing capabilities can be designed to monitor physiological signals, track movement, or provide haptic feedback. 

In sports, e-textiles can track performance metrics and enhance training. In the fashion industry, they can enable designers to create interactive and adaptive clothing, merging aesthetics with functionality.

Smart clothing holds promising potential for future applications, with envisaged uses in health monitoring, tracking soldiers, and monitoring pilots. The integration of personal physiological monitoring, communication features, as well as heating and lighting capabilities stands out as key areas where this technology can offer significant benefits.

13. Spintronics

Spintronics (or spin electronics) refers to the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment in solid-state physics. It is far different than conventional electronics. 

In conventional electronics, data is processed based on the charge of electrons. In spintronics, the intrinsic property of electrons called “spin” is used as an additional degree of freedom for data storage and processing.

By leveraging both the charge and spin of electrons, spintronics opens up new possibilities for high-performance and energy-efficient electronic components, with potential applications ranging from data storage to computing. 

They can also play a crucial role in the development of highly sensitive magnetic sensors and spin-transfer torque devices, which are critical for efficient magnetization control in electronic components. 

Spintronics can also open new doors for developing components for neuromorphic computing and quantum information processing.

12. Nanoelectromechanical System

Electron micrograph of Nanoelectromechanical system fabricated in single-crystal silicon | Credit: H. G. Craighead 

The nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) integrates nano-sized electronic elements with mechanical machines to create physical and chemical sensors. Representing the natural progression from microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), NEMS is the next logical step in the ongoing trend toward miniaturization in the field of electronic systems.

These systems have incredible properties, which pave the way for various applications, ranging from ultrahigh-frequency resonators to chemical and biological sensors. Following are the few crucial attributes of nanoelectromechanical systems –

  • Fundamental frequencies in the microwave range
  • Active mass in the femtogram range
  • Mass sensitivity up to attogram and subattogram levels
  • Force sensitivity at the attonewton level
  • Power consumption in the order of 10 aw.
  • Extreme high integration level, reaching one trillion elements per square centimeter.

NEMS devices have also been studied for their potential role in quantum information processing. Their precise control over nanoscale mechanical components could be harnessed for creating qubits (quantum bits) or for interfacing with other quantum systems. 

11. Molecular Electronics

As the name suggests, molecular electronics uses molecules as the primary building block for electronic circuitry. It is an interdisciplinary field that spans materials science, chemistry, and physics.

This technology allows the creation of much smaller electronic circuits at nanoscales compared to traditional semiconductors like silicon. In these tiny devices, the movement of electrons follows the principles of quantum mechanics.

While we’re still a long way from creating entire circuits made up exclusively of molecular-sized elements, the increasing demand for more computing power and limitations of current lithographic techniques make this shift seem inevitable.

Scientists are currently exploring molecules with unique properties to establish consistent and reliable connections between the molecular segments and the bulk material of the electrodes.

10. Electronic Nose

An electronic nose identifies certain components of an odor and analyzes its chemical makeup. It contains a mechanism for chemical detection, including an array of electronic sensors and artificial intelligence tools for pattern recognition.

Such devices have been around for over two decades but are typically expensive and bulky. Researchers are trying to make these devices less expensive, smaller, and more sensitive.

Electronic nose instruments are used by research facilities, production departments, and quality control laboratories for various purposes, such as the detection of contamination, spoilage, and adulteration.

They also find applications in healthcare, aiding in disease diagnosis through breath analysis. Additionally, they play a crucial role in detecting gas leaks and pollutants, contributing to environmental protection efforts.

9. 3D Biometrics

The use of biometric information is rising every year, particularly in banking, forensics, and public security. While most biometric recognition relies on two-dimensional images, recent years have seen the development of more advanced techniques.

These techniques can be grouped into three categories: 

  • 3D Facial Recognition: In addition to 2D face, it captures depth information to create a more detailed and unique representation of an individual’s face
  • 3D Fingerprint Recognition: It offers more robust and accurate identification than 2D fingerprint systems.
  • Iris Recognition: It captures the unique features of the iris in three dimensions

Be it for purposes of human-computer interaction or enhanced security, there will be a wide application of robust biometrics. For example, it can integrated within electronic transactions or financial operations to further secure user authentication and minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

8. Electronic Skin and Tongue

A wine-tasting electronic tongue | Credit: Kenny McMahon / Washington State University

Materials that can stretch, flex, and heal themselves, replicating the characteristics of the animal or human skin, are known as electronic skin. These materials respond to changes in pressure and heat, enabling them to gather information through physical interaction.

These versatile materials could open new doors to useful applications, such as prosthetics, soft robotics, health monitoring, and artificial intelligence. Future electronic skin designs aim for materials with high mechanical strength, improved sensing capabilities, recyclability, and self-healing properties.

In contrast, an electronic tongue gauges and compares tastes using multiple sensors. Each sensor has a unique reaction spectrum capable of detecting both organic and inorganic compounds.

Electronic tongues have applications in various fields, ranging from the food and beverage sector to the pharmaceutical industry. It is also used to benchmark target products and monitor environmental parameters.

7. Memristor

The concept of memristors was introduced by an American electrical engineer, Leon Chua, in 1971. He inferred the possibility of an additional nonlinear circuit element linking magnetic flux and charge.

Every electronic circuit comprises passive components such as inductors, capacitors, and resistors. There is a fourth component called memristor – these are semiconductors used to create low-power-consuming storage devices.

A memristor regulates the current flow in a circuit while remembering the amount of charge that has previously flowed through it. Memristors are non-volatile components that have very high storage as well as speed. Plus, they can be scaled down to very small sizes, allowing for high-density memory and compact circuits.

Memristors, as indicated by patents, have applications in signal processing, brain-computer interfaces, reconfigurable computing, programmable logic, and neural networks. In the future, these devices could be employed to perform digital logic, potentially replacing NAND gates in certain applications.

6. Flexible and Foldable Electronics

Royole: Super-thin flexible display | Image Credit: Paul Sawers / VentureBeat

Flexible and foldable electronic devices are made with flexible materials, such as plastic or organic compounds. They can conform to different shapes, bend, and, in some cases, be folded without compromising their functionality. 

This technology opens new avenues for portable and wearable electronics, as well as innovative form factors for multiple devices. One of the most popular examples is OLEDs based on a flexible substrate (common flexible substrate materials include plastic, organic compounds, and metal foils). 

These flexible OLEDs are very thin, light, and somewhat shatter-proof. LG and Samsung have already launched prototypes of such displays. The LG 65-inch 4K OLED TV, for example, has a rollable display

Flexible electronics are also ideal for wearable devices like fitness trackers, health monitoring devices, and smart clothing. These can conform to the contours of the body for improved comfort.

The current-generation foldable devices have many flaws and are too expensive. Many of them serve as proof-of-concept devices designed for early adopters rather than being practical for the mass market. However, it’s clear that flexible displays are evolving into something very different, which may lead to astonishing developments across the tech industry.

5. Graphene Electronics

Graphene laminate film for capacitive energy storage

Graphene is known for its exceptional electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties, which make it a highly promising material for advancing electronic technologies. 

Its flexibility and mechanical strength, for example, make it suitable for flexible and bendable electronic components. Graphene-based flexible displays, sensors, and wearable devices are fields of active research. 

Its conductivity and transparency make it an excellent choice for transparent conductive films. These films can be utilized in touchscreens, solar cells, and flexible displays

Graphene-based photodetectors, which are highly sensitive to light, have applications in imaging and sensing. Graphene sensors can accurately detect various molecules and gases, holding promise for environmental monitoring and healthcare. 

Graphene transistors could outperform conventional silicon transistors due to graphene’s high carrier mobility. Scientists are studying graphene-based transistors to develop faster and more energy-efficient integrated circuits. 

The material can also be incorporated into energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors and batteries, to improve their performance. They can enable faster charging and discharging, longer battery life, and higher storage capacity. 

Read: What Is A Graphene Battery? [A Simple Overview] 

4. Advanced Materials for Electronics 

Advanced materials contribute to the ongoing evolution of electronic devices, enabling the development of faster, smaller, and more efficient electronic components. These materials could be anything, from organic substances to synthetic compounds engineered to have enhanced properties. 

Nanomaterials, like nanoparticles and nanotubes, exhibit unique electronic properties (such as improved conductivity or enhanced sensitivity) due to their nanoscale dimensions. Similarly, carbon-based materials are employed in OLEDs and flexible electronics because of their lightweight nature and flexibility. 

Two-dimensional materials like transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and phosphorene are being explored for applications in optoelectronics, transistors, and quantum devices.

Moreover, III-V compound semiconductors, such as indium phosphide and gallium arsenide, have superior electronic properties compared to conventional silicon. They are used in high-speed and high-frequency electronic components, including high-performance transistors and lasers.

3. Perovskite Solar Cells

Perovskite solar cells use perovskite materials as the light-absorbing layer. They have gained significant attention in recent years due to their rapid progress in efficiency, low-cost manufacturing, and versatility in applications. 

The most commonly used perovskite material is methylammonium lead trihalide (MAPbX3), where X stands for a halide ion such as iodide, chloride, or bromide. 

While these solar cells have shown great promise in the lab, their commercialization and widespread adoption in the solar market are ongoing processes. Some companies, including Oxford PV and Saule Technologies, are actively working on bringing perovskite-based solar products to the market. 

2. Microfluidics  

Microfluidics electronics refers to the integration of microfluidics and electronic components on a miniaturized scale. This interdisciplinary field merges principles of microfluidics, electronics, and materials science to develop devices that can offer advantages like faster reaction times and increased sensitivity. 

This often leads to the development of lab-on-a-chip devices. These small devices can perform multiple laboratory functions, including sample preparation, separation, mixing, and detection — all within a single chip-size device. 

This field also plays an important role in the development of point-of-care diagnostic devices, which can be used for rapid and on-site analysis of biological samples. These devices can also be designed for DNA analysis, cell sorting, and drug discovery. 

1. Neuromorphic Hardware

Intel’s neuromorphic chip Loihi-2

Neuromorphic chips are designed to mimic the structure and functionality of the human brain. This emerging field of electronics is inspired by the architecture and principles of the nervous system.

It aims to develop hardware that can perform tasks like pattern recognition and decision-making more efficiently than conventional computing architectures.

Neuromorphic systems are adaptive and can learn from experience. They excel at parallel processing and performing tasks related to pattern recognition. Moreover, they often feature low power consumption because they leverage the principle from the brain, where neurons activate only when necessary, leading to more energy-efficient computing. 

Hardware implementations of these systems involve the use of specialized neuromorphic chips. These chips are developed to execute neural network algorithms efficiently and are optimized for specific neuromorphic computing tasks. 

IBM’s TrueNorth and Intel’s Loihi are the two most popular examples of neuromorphic chips. BrainChip’s Akida Neuromorphic System-on-Chip has also gained popularity for edge applications. 

More to Know

Notable challenges hindering the progress of emerging electronics technologies

Several challenges pose obstacles to the development and widespread adoption of new electronic technologies. The major ones include:

  • As devices become smaller, it gets harder to maintain performance, power efficiency, and reliability
  • The demand for energy-efficient devices conflicts with the growing power requirements
  • The need for more robust materials
  • Smaller devices require complex manufacturing processes
  • Devices become obsolete quickly, resulting in electronic waste
  • The absence of standardized protocols and frameworks

Addressing these challenges requires a strong effort from scientists, policymakers, and industry experts to foster responsible development, ethical use, and seamless integration of emerging tech into various aspects of society. 

How do emerging electronics technologies contribute to urban development?

Innovation in electronics can lead to the creation of smart cities. For example, smart infrastructure can integrate sensors and IoT devices, optimizing resource utilization and energy efficiency across multiple sectors, from transportation to utilities.

Intelligent transportation systems can leverage AI and data analytics to ease traffic congestion and improve mobility. Smart grids and renewable energy sources can monitor and optimize energy consumption more effectively. 

Furthermore, the integration of IoT sensors in waste bins can promote sustainable waste management practices and improve recycling efforts. 

Consumer Electronics Market Size

The global consumer electronics market size is expected to exceed $1.26 trillion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% from 2023 to 2032. The US consumer electronics market is predicted to touch $294 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period. 

The major factors behind this growth include expanding distribution networks, increasing disposable income, and the continuous introduction of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing. 

Read More 

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Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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